Coordination, agenda-setting, and future planning: the role of Combined Authorities during the COVID-19 Pandemic



Kippin S & Morphet J (2023) Coordination, agenda-setting, and future planning: the role of Combined Authorities during the COVID-19 Pandemic. International Review of Public Policy, 5 (3).

Following an intermittent and halting roll-out, Combined Authorities (CAs) are now an established part of English governance. They represent a 'pooling' of competences by different geographically contiguous local authorities which approximately align with economic geographies and have emerged with strong encouragement from central government. Today, they cover most of England's large urban centres and enjoy a modest and variable range of permissions to act over planning, transport, and economic development. Since their establishment, they have grown in profile, owing in part to the presence of Directly Elected Mayors, who provide the model with executive leadership, visibility, and electoral legitimacy. The period of the Covid-19 pandemic provides an opportunity to assess their role and influence and to explore how this changed during and as a result of this period of sustained national emergency. Drawing upon publicly available data related primarily-but not exclusively-to three CAs (West Midlands, Teesside, and Liverpool), we conclude that they have played three main overlapping roles. Firstly, they have proven to be engaged in coordination and mediation between regional stakeholders. Secondly, they have proved influential as agenda setters, drawing attention to central government failure. Thirdly, they have acted within their regeneration and planning competences to strategise the economic and urban futures of their city-regions.

combined authorities; COVID-19; UK policymaking; local democracy; local government; regional government Full text

International Review of Public Policy: Volume 5, Issue 3

Publication date31/12/2023
Publication date online31/12/2023
Date accepted by journal28/02/2024

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Dr Sean Kippin

Dr Sean Kippin

Lecturer in Public Policy, Politics