Leeds echoes Core Cities welcome for plans to give cities freedom to grow
The Core Cities Group has broadly welcomed the Lord Adonis’s Review, outlining how a Labour Government would drive growth. The Adonis Review now means all major parties see strong city economies with more freedom and less Whitehall control as key to unlocking growth.
Following the announcement in Leeds this morning, Councillor Keith Wakefield, Leader of Leeds City Council said:
“Leeds, along with West Yorkshire and York, are already strong and vibrant economically, seeing the second biggest value added to the economy – over £55 billion. What we really want to see is the support from Whitehall for fair investment in infrastructure which will mean that the North can deliver on our potential. The Review clearly points in the right direction by emphasising the opportunities devolved spending could bring.”
The Review recommends more than £30bn of funding could be devolved over the course of a parliament – three times more than is planned now. This would include cities having more power to control funding for housing, transport, business support and employment.
The inclusion of funding and powers for cities to tackle skills in the Review is also a major step forward. The Core Cities have long argued that the current skills system is too complicated and fails to meet the needs of local business. Cities need the freedoms to train the workforce to deliver the skills that local businesses need.
Other measures include the creation of ‘business hubs’ to stimulate innovation and the smarter use of central Government procurement to help local SMEs. Both proposals were put forward by the Core Cities Group in their Prospectus, launched in autumn last year.
Councillor Jon Collins, Leader of Nottingham City Council and the Core Cities Portfolio Holder for Growth, said:
"The Core Cities are pleased that all the major parties see cities as the way to drive economic growth and welcome today’s proposals in the Labour Growth Review to provide more power for our cities to let them create jobs and grow our economies.
“Long term investment in our cities’ infrastructure and vocational training for our residents is key to establishing a strong economy across the country that can produce high skilled products and exports. In order to achieve this we need funding changes to local government which will see a better balance of funding for the regions.
“ We are particularly pleased to see the inclusion of more local control of skills funding in these proposals. This would help us provide locally led business and innovation support to help create jobs and meet the specific skills and training needs of commerce and industry in our cities.”
Overall the Review is a positive step towards setting cities free to grow. The proposals could go further in some areas though, such as taxation. Core Cities’ urban areas already deliver 27% of the English economy and are home to 16 million people, yet only retain about 5% of the total tax base raised in these cities which is damaging their economic potential. Adonis sets out proposals which would increase the tax retained by cities, but not enough.
Greater freedom to decide how to spend the money generated in cities, such as property taxes, would help the Core Cities meet their target of outperforming the national economy, and becoming financially self-sustaining. Independent forecasts demonstrate 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.
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 which can be read online here.
The Core Cities are 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/.
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