Core Cities meet William Hague to drive devolution agenda

Council leaders call for greater devolved powers.

This afternoon, the ten leaders and mayors of Core Cities UK, the Core Cities Cabine’, 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.

Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council and Core Cities lead on transport, said: “The Core Cities are the UK’s engines of growth and prosperity – the argument to devolve powers to the regions is beyond doubt.

“Placing powers and budgets into the hands of those on the ground in the regions will lead to better informed decision-making and accountability, meaning the likes of Birmingham will have the best possible opportunity to maximise its potential for citizens and businesses. Much is being said about devolving further powers to Scotland.

“There is no reason the Core Cities should be treated any differently. Here in the West Midlands, Birmingham and the councils in the Black Country have announced plans for a combined authority. We are putting the building blocks in place and now need central government to support our ambitions.”

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, seven in Sweden, almost six in Germany, and over five times greater across the OECD on average.