West Midlands Mayor hopeful establishes West Midlands Fiscal Commission

Aim to boost central government help for devolved region.

Siôn Simon, Labour’s candidate for West Midlands Mayor and MEP for the West Midlands, has announced the establishment of a West Midlands Fiscal Commission.

The West Midlands Fiscal Commission will examine how the region can secure a greater devolution of tax receipts and resources from central government to drive growth, jobs and prosperity.

Shabana Mahmood MP, who will chair the West Midlands Fiscal Commission, will guide the commission on redefining the West Midlands’ relationship with Whitehall.

The Fiscal Commission has set out five key objectives:

1. To analyse existing arrangements for government funding and revenue raising for the West Midlands

2. Compare these funding arrangements with similar places in the UK and internationally

3. Consider the relationship between the economic performance of places and the fiscal freedoms that are in place

4. Examine ways greater fiscal freedoms could be used to improve economic performance and competiveness

5. Identify the benefits, in terms of jobs and inclusive growth, that could be delivered if the West Midlands has a greater say in how its spending is financed and how that finance is used

Siôn Simon, establishing the West Midlands Fiscal Commission, said: “Real devolution means getting the fiscal responsibility and the resources we need to deliver real change. The danger is that the Tories will water one or both of these things down such that devolution looks like nothing of the sort.

“We mustn’t be short-changed compared to other areas. We must demand devolution that gives us the real power and resources to make the best decisions for people and businesses here in the West Midlands.

“This week I’ve established the West Midlands Fiscal Commission, chaired by one of the region’s most outstanding MPs, and bringing together experts from across the region to plot the way forward. Their job over the next few months is to build a strong, factually driven case that can form the basis of the Mayor’s prospectus on taking office in May 2017.

“Too much of this process to date has been conducted behind thickly closed doors. I’m determined to have a proper, transparent, public examination of how we move devolution forward”.

Shabana Mahmood MP, who will chair the West Midlands Fiscal Commission, said: “Over the next few weeks I will be putting together a team of experts from across the region to help me lead the West Midlands Fiscal Commission. This won’t just be a group of politicians in a room – it will be a group of experts with experience from across the most important sectors in the West Midlands – from manufacturing to Higher Education – to establish what the best West Midlands fiscal devolution pathway looks like.

“It is not in the interests of the West Midlands for us to wait for May 2017 to do this work, or for it to be done in back rooms by unelected officials. Unfortunately I have no confidence in Theresa May or the Conservatives to deliver us the best deal for the people of the West Midlands. They have no clue what they are doing with Brexit and are spending time, energy and money on widely discredited vanity projects such as new grammar schools.

“The West Midlands Fiscal Commission will take a leading role in helping to shape the deal with Government and will be putting forward the strategic requirements for the next stage of West Midlands devolution.”