Local people demand more power to England's cities

By on 21/07/2014 in Leader, News

Birmingham will be among England's eight largest cities outside of London taking part in the launch today (21 July) of a major national campaign demanding more power over how they spend their money.

The Local Voices campaign will be launched at a Parliamentary reception with Mayor of London, Boris Johnson and Nottingham City Council leader Cllr Jon Collins telling MPs and council leaders of the need to make the most of taxpayers' money by having the power to make decisions locally.

The Local Voices campaign consists of people in each of the eight Core Cities whose work has benefited, and would benefit further, by greater devolution of freedoms to cities. Spokespeople include the manager of a Premier Inn in Leeds, a family intervention project team leader in Manchester and the chief executive of an SME in Nottingham.

Also attending the Parliamentary Reception today will be Mayor George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, council leaders from the Core Cities and London and MPs from England's biggest cities.

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. This could also mean an additional £41.6billion to the Government in taxes from increased jobs by 2030 - enough to pay off almost half the national deficit. However, rather than raising the levels of taxes, this could be achieved simply by changing how current taxes are invested.

Speaking in advance of the Parliamentary reception, Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council and Chair of the Core Cities Cabinet, said:

The national economy needs our cities to succeed like never before in delivering jobs and growth, and reducing dependency on public services. To do so means going further and faster in devolving resources from the centre.

“The Local Voices campaign clearly demonstrates the positive impact devolution can have on people's lives. Each of the case studies has benefited from decisions being made at a local level but at the same time have been hindered that the freedoms cities enjoy do not go far enough to enable them to make a real difference. This campaign seeks to highlight the excellent work cities do and how with more freedoms we can make our community's better places to live.”

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

“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 though growth deals are a step forward, the current 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 needs in our cities.”

Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council and Core Cities Portfolio Holder for Transport, said:

“Our cities have their own unique identity and, therefore, their own unique needs. The most effective way to address these needs is to devolve more powers to the local authorities who know their cities best.

Transport infrastructure is one of the major catalysts for growth. Further devolved funding with greater flexibility around its use is essential to free cities up to take a larger role in shaping, growing and delivering key transport schemes that under pin regeneration.”

Julie Cusack, Family Intervention Project Team Leader from Manchester and one of the Local Voices speaking of how local freedoms in Manchester through the Family Intervention Programme have benefited her work, said:

The transformation in the family's lives has been remarkable: better school attendance, less interventions by police and social workers, improved health outcomes and generally happier and more motivated people.

“We now need to build on the programme and others like it, if we are to fully reform our public services.”

Simon Murphy, General Manager, Premier Inn Leeds & Bradford and one of the Local Voices talking about the need for devolution to help young people get into work, such as the Leeds Devolved Youth Contract, said:

Locally devised and targeted skills programmes can significantly boost the number and quality of young people able to go on and have economically productive lives. We need greater influence to give far more young people meaningful training that firms are actively seeking.”

International cities, such as Paris, Berlin and Barcelona, have enjoyed huge amounts of economic success due to having the policy and tax freedoms to boost their local economies. Comparatively, England's Core Cities are being hindered by central Government retaining control over 95% of funds raised locally.

Birmingham Alabama for example retains a lot more locally raised taxes than Birmingham UK. 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 more than five times greater across the OECD on average.

Local Voices forms part of the wider City Centred Campaign for greater devolution to cities run by Core Cities, the Mayor of London and London Councils.


For media enquiries, please contact Jonathan Horsfall on 0121 303 3367.

Notes to editors

Please visit the City Centred website for more details of the campaign and to view the Local Voices case studies www.citycentred.co.uk

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.

Property taxes consist of: council tax, business rates, stamp duty land tax, annual tax on enveloped dwellings and capital gains property disposal tax.

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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