Core cities meet with William Hague and Boris Johnson to drive devolution agenda forward


Caption: L-R Rt Hon William Hague MP, First Secretary of State, Leader of the House and Chair of the Cabinet Committee for Devolved Powers, Mayor of Bristol George Ferguson, Cllr Ann O'Byrne (Liverpool), Leader of Cardiff City Council Cllr Phil Bale, Leader of Birmingham City Council Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Manchester City Council Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Newcastle City Council Cllr Nick Forbes, Leader of Leeds City Council Cllr Keith Wakefield, Leader of Nottingham City Council Cllr Jon Collins.

This afternoon, the ten leaders and mayors of Core Cities UK, the 'Core Cities Cabinet', met with William Hague MP, chair of The Cabinet Committee for Devolved Powers, to discuss a plan to drive forward devolution to the UK’s cities.

The Core Cities Cabinet demanded that devolution to the UK’s cities is delivered in the same time frame as Scottish devolution.

This meeting came hours after the Core Cities Cabinet met with Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

The Mayor backed their calls for greater powers to UK cities across borders, avoiding the unnecessary extra bureaucratic layer of an English parliament.

Councillor Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council, and Core Cities UK cabinet member for employment, skills and welfare said:

“I’m pleased that after strong and sustained lobbying, our requests for further talks on this hugely important issue have led to today’s meeting.

“Currently around 95 per cent of all finance raised in Leeds and other cities goes directly to national government coffers, with the money coming back having literally thousands of strings attached.

“Now is the time for us to have greater control over how finance is raised and invested locally so we can join up public services, and support jobs and growth.

“Our discussions today have shown the increasing awareness and support across the political spectrum for greater devolution of powers away from Whitehall.

“It’s good to talk but what we really need to see is action to back up the words and a clear timetable that will result in Leeds city region and the other core cities releasing their true potential and transforming the lives and opportunities of millions of citizens.”

Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council and Chair of Core Cities UK said:

“A programme of devolution for Scotland has been set out, but the national agenda for devolution is simply not radical enough.

“The devolution we need has to be at the level of the city and even the neighbourhood.

“Any legislation must make provision for the whole of the UK, and specifically for its cities.

“Although the timing should not restrict the promises to Scotland being delivered, we would like to see this within the same time frame for the whole of the UK.

“That is why we are pleased the Government is taking notice as in an increasingly competitive global economy, the UK’s big cities are Britain’s best bet.”

Jon Collins, Leader of Nottingham City Council and Core Cities UK cabinet member for growth said:

“Greater freedom to decide how to spend the money generated in our cities would help the Core Cities meet their target of outperforming the national economy, and becoming financially self-sustaining.

"Independent forecasts demonstrate that, for the eight English Core Cities alone, this could mean an additional £222 billion and 1.3 million jobs for the country by 2030.

"That is like adding the entire economy of Denmark to the UK and with Glasgow and Cardiff on side, it will be even more.

"More jobs and growth, more investment for housing and transport, better skills in the labour market and more support for business. In short, unlocking the massive unused potential of our cities.”

Cllr Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council, and Core Cities UK cabinet member for public service reform, added:

"Today's discussions are a sign that the argument for city devolution continues to gain ground among decision-makers in Westminster.

"We are a growing voice that the Government would be wrong to ignore.

"Our cities are essential growth hubs but, like big cities the world over, they are also home to large numbers of people reliant on public services.

"With greater freedoms we can reform public services, integrating them at the point of delivery, saving money, improving people’s lives and getting more people into training and employment.”

Core Cities’ urban areas deliver 28 per cent of the English, Welsh and Scottish economies combined and are home to 19 million, yet they underperform by the standards set by international competitors.

This is because, currently, cities only retain about 5 per cent of the total tax base raised in them which is damaging their economic potential.

According to the OECD, the level of taxes managed at the local or regional level is about 10 times greater in Canada, 7.5 in the US, 7 in Sweden, almost 6 in Germany, and over 5 times greater across the OECD on average.


Media contact

Alex Linden

Westbourne Communications

Alex.linden@westbournecoms.com / 020 3397 1874

Notes to editors

Core Cities UK consist of: Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield.

The Core Cities UK recently released a Growth Prospectus which can be read online here.

The Core Cities UK is a unique and united local authority voice to promote the role of their cities in driving economic growth.

They represent the councils of England’s eight largest city economies outside London and Scotland’s largest city.

The Core Cities Group has a track record of 15 years as a cross party group, led by the City Leaders and Mayors.

For more information please visit http://www.corecities.com