What Is Devolution?
Devolution is the transfer of power from the national government o local governments. It changes the way that funds meant to meet the needs of local people are handled. The decisions are made at a local level rather than at a national level. This means that leaders can make decisions closer to the local communities, businesses, and people. In the United Kingdom, devolution means that powers are transferred from the UK parliament in London to the assemblies in Belfast, Cardiff, and Edinburgh There were public votes in 1997 in Wales and Scotland. In 1998, there were public votes in Ireland. The result of the vote was the creation of the National Assembly for Wales, the Scottish Parliament, and the Northern Ireland Assembly. Some of the devolved powers include housing, education, agriculture, forestry & fishing, economic development, and the environment. Non-devolved powers include energy and immigration & nationality.
Benefits of Devolution
Devolution improves responsibility on the part of the government. When the central government gives up some of its powers to devolved governments, it has few issues to concentrate on. It is, therefore, likely to deliver better results than a government which carries all the responsibilities.
It facilitates participatory decision-making because devolved governments involve members of the local community, businesses, and other stakeholders when making decisions. It is possible for the local government to understand what the people want before attempting to provide them with solutions.
It balances economic development. It helps to bridge social and economic inequalities because resources are decentralised. People can easily access the resources and infrastructure that they need because they are brought closer to them. Devolution makes it possible for a country to achieve a balanced economy. The fact that different regions have their own administration ensures that resources are distributed and managed at that a regional level. If the economy of different regions improves, the general economy of the country improves. It creates opportunities for new leaders because the political space is broadened.
Adoption of devolution leads to an improvement in healthcare systems. Devolved governments are responsible for the healthcare of their regions. They set aside funds from their revenue to cater to the needs. Improved health care may lead to reduced infant mortality rate, improvement in specialised treatment, and more.
National regions do not necessarily have the same needs. The central government may not be able to address this issue. It addresses the needs of the country in general. To cater to these needs, there is a need to have a government that is concerned about the needs of the region. It brings governments closer to the people and, therefore, promotes democracy.
Devolution promotes independence. Devolved regions do not only seek independent governance. They strive to have independence in every other aspect. This may promote a better sense of identity and belonging for the residents.
Devolution is one of the most important steps towards making decisions that favour local people and not general decisions that may or may not favour a few of them. It offers freedom and flexibility. Without devolution, important decisions will continue to be made without targeting specific communities.
Disadvantages of Devolution
Critics feel that devolution may not be as rosy as it sounds. Many of them feel that devolution promotes lack of unity in the country. If every region demands to be devolved, they feel that the sense of national identity may be lost. Others feel that there is no real necessity for devolution and that those who promote it exaggerate the possible benefits. Some critics feel that the extra layer of governance is confusing. It may be difficult to know who is responsible for certain duties. Devolution places a huge burden on the tax payers.