The Institute for Government sets out 10 obstacles to decentralisation in the UK:
· Central government lacks trust in the accountability of sub-national government for failure, and fears that blame will ‘default back’ to ministers
· Those leading decentralising reforms are often unsuccessful at persuading other departments or ministers to give away powers
· Due to the UK’s constitutional arrangements, sub-national government can (and will) be reorganised at the whim of the executive
· Whitehall departments resist devolving power to authorities that, in their view, do not operate at the right geographic scale
· Taking powers from existing local politicians to give to a new sub-national government structure is a recipe for opposition
· Changing the boundaries of political representation may jeopardise existing political composition and control
· The public is not interested in sub-national government reform and will tend towards the status quo
· People will only support a new institution if it’s clear that it will make a difference to them
· The public is generally hostile towards the idea of more politicians
· Concerns over identity and control can be significant barriers to change.
While these obstacles can be overcome, the rational responses to each are in conflict with one another and ‘they clearly can’t be followed simply to overcome the obstacles one by one. Instead, decentralisation efforts are constrained by a complex web of ‘double-binds’ and conflicting priorities’.