Core Cities welcome Growth Deals but say ‘more still to do’

Issued on behalf of the Core Cities group

Today Leeds joined its fellow English Core Cities in welcoming the latest round of Growth Deals as a step in the right direction, but called for even greater emphasis on unlocking their economic potential.

The Government has announced a £12bn fund to invest in local economies over the next six years. The money will be spent on training, housing, transport and superfast broadband.

‘Growth Deals’ are a competitive process whereby the Local Enterprise Partnerships of business and civic leaders negotiate funding for local priorities. The group acknowledged the Minister’s continued commitment to decentralisation.

The Core Cities argue that in England too many cities outside London are failing to achieve their growth potential. Very few are at the forefront of the nation’s economy and many are overly dependent on dwindling public sector funding. The eight Core Cities urban areas between them already account for 27% of England’s economic output, and with greater freedom could deliver much more.

Cllr Keith Wakefield, Leader of Leeds City Council, said:

“While today’s announcement is the excellent news we have been pushing hard for for a very long time, we still firmly believe there is huge scope to go further to unleash the economic potential of our cities.

“This weekend’s incredibly successful staging of the Grand Départ and opening stages of the Tour de France in Yorkshire demonstrate beyond doubt just what we are capable of achieving for the UK economy in our regions.

“We need real local powers to support real local determination to design our own economic destiny. Our great cities developed around driving the English industrial engine but while most of the power is still focused in London it inhibits our efforts to rebuild our regions into the economic force to be reckoned with they can and should be. Strong and successful regions in turn under-pin the national economy.”

Cllr Jon Collins, Leader of Nottingham City Council and Core Cities Cabinet member for Business, Growth, Trade and Investment said:

“I welcome today’s Growth Deal measures to enable cities to create jobs and grow our economies. The ability to invest in our cities’ infrastructure and the skills of our residents is key to competing for growth in the global economy.

“But we can’t deliver on jobs, growth and financial self sufficiency with our hands tied behind our backs by Whitehall. Our overly centralised system is no longer fit for purpose and an annual negotiation process won’t solve the problem. The Core Cities want to see a better balance of funding for the regions so we can effectively meet the specific needs in our cities.”

The Core Cities have also been pushing for a new approach to public sector reform, arguing this goes hand in hand with driving growth. Local, sustainable public services create the quality of life and environment that supports business, their workforce and families, and ultimately attracts investment.

Core Cities’ urban areas currently only retain about 5% of the total tax base raised in them. Greater freedom to decide how to spend the money generated in cities would mean joined up services that local people want, but also growth. Independent forecasts demonstrate these measures 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.

Cllr Nick Forbes, Leader of Newcastle City Council and Core Cities Cabinet member for Public Sector Reform said:

“Newcastle and other cities have already benefited from previous Deals. These have shown how loosening the ties between ourselves and Westminster is starting to create jobs. The announcement of significant funding today is welcome, and will undoubtedly help create more jobs, but it falls short of the level of reform set out by Heseltine.

"Our ambition is for reform of local and central Government, so cities have greater influence over the taxes they raise and are free to get on with the excellent work of delivering services for citizens. We would have better transport, better housing and better services for our most vulnerable residents without costing the taxpayer a penny more. Crucially, more decisions taken locally would not only promote growth but breathe new life into local democracy. Growth Deals are a positive step forward, but there is an appetite to go further.”


Media contacts

Chris Murray

Core Cities

c.murray@corecities.com / 0161 234 5666

Lucy James

Westbourne Communications

Lucy.james@westbournecoms.com / 020 3397 0105

Lisa Cattanach

Nottingham City Council

lisa.cattanach@nottinghamcity.gov.uk / 0115 876 3324

Steve Park

Newcastle City Council

Steve.park@newcastle.gov.uk / 0191 211 5071

Donna Cox

Leeds City Council

Donna.cox@leeds.gov.uk / 0113 224 3335

Notes to editors

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

The Core Cities recently released a Growth Prospectus. The group provides 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. The Core Cities Group has a track record of 15 years as a cross party group, led by the City Leaders. For more information please visit http://www.corecities.com/.