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Government's 'duty to devolve'

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Central government departments should have a 'duty to devolve' placed upon them as part of a radical overhaul of the way Whitehall works, a new report argues.

The report by the New Local Government Network thinktank, Challenging Perspectives: Improving Whitehall’s spatial awareness, also calls for regional ministers to be made full time ministers of state, with slimmed down government offices of the regions acting as secretariat.

NLGN director Chris Leslie claimed that the duty to devolve could become a devolutionary test in the parliamentary and legislative process.

“We believe these reforms would encourage a more cross-cutting approach to policy and increase variation between and within regions and localities,” he said.

“Such reforms would ensure decision-making is properly integrated throughout sub-national structures and take place at the most appropriate spatial level.”

The report, launched by Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell, also calls for senior civil servants to be forced to have some experience of working within local government.

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