New Cities for Business partnership launched

By on 31/07/2014 in Leader, News

A new Cities for Business partnership has been launched today (31 July), covering the eight largest urban areas in England.  It has been formed by the Core Cities Cabinet joining with the chairs of the eight Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) which operate across wider economic areas - city regions - taking in both the Core Cities and many other important towns and cities.

These city and business leaders have written to the Chancellor, Shadow Chancellor and Chief Secretary to the Treasury in a joint statement calling for new powers and freedoms to create jobs, growth and investment across England's biggest cities.

Cities for Business aims to advise Government on creating growth outside the South East, work together on plans to create more jobs and investment and come up with new ideas for supporting local businesses.

Jon Collins, Leader of Nottingham City Council and Vice Chair for Growth on the Core Cities Cabinet, said:

“This is a critical moment for our economy and our cities. As leaders and mayors of big cities we want to do all we can to support our businesses to create growth and jobs, but it often feels like we are doing so with one hand tied behind our backs.  With greater freedom to generate the right skills in the labour market, more investment and tailored support packages for business, we could do much more.  Our urban areas deliver 27 per cent of the English economy, but are still underperforming by international standards. That's why we have come together with our eight LEPs - which cover wider areas around the Core Cities - to create a distinctive urban voice.”

Mike Blackburn, Chair of the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership, said:

“Businesses face tough challenges ahead: finding employees with the right skill set, getting good advice to help them grow and develop trade links, accessing investment and ensuring that local infrastructure and the asset base businesses need to thrive within a city are sufficiently high. Too often these success factors are controlled at the national not the local level, and that leaves local businesses with less influence, and less chance of a solution that is tailored to meet their needs.  That's why our eight LEPs, which represent wider areas and work with all the local authorities across them, are also coming together with the Core Cities Cabinet to make sure we take every opportunity to influence Government to provide the right support at the right level. “

Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said:

“As Core Cities, we all recognise the importance of strong partnerships with the business community.  The core cities and their city regions face distinct challenges but they also provide enormous opportunities to drive the growth of the whole nation.  I therefore welcome the creation of this important new partnership.  It will further strengthen our united voice as we push for more powers and flexibilities so that we can fully grasp those opportunities.”

Steve Hollis, Deputy Chair of Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP), said:

“GBSLEP welcomes the 'Cities for Business' partnership. The eight Core City LEPs are the economic powerhouses of the UK and by coming together through this partnership we will be able to further drive forward growth and job creation. Through this partnership of business leaders and politicians we intend to work with government to progress the devolution agenda and jointly and individually work to raise the UK's national economic output.”

The Cities for Business joint statement in full:

We are writing to you as business and city leaders from the eight largest economic areas in England outside London.  The Core Cities have joined with the eight Local Enterprise Partnerships that cover a wider economic geography, including many other important towns and cities that are critical to this debate.  We want to make an offer to this and future governments.

Join with us in a shared vision for a different urban future, one of stronger growth, more jobs, more investment, with England's cities able to compete on a level playing field abroad.

Work with us to rebalance the national economy through a new relationship based on trust and empowerment, freeing city and business leaders to create the jobs and growth that both our local economies and the country needs.

To achieve this vision we have today launched Cities for Business, a 16-strong experienced advisory board formed from cities and business leaders, with the three aims of:

  • Advising government on policy to rebalance the economy;
  • Working in partnership to create jobs, investment and growth, and
  • Developing new thinking to benefit business and our local economies.

Our eight urban areas represent 27 per cent of the nation's economy, are home to 16 million people and a thriving business base. Yet by international standards, they underperform. The reason for this is clear: we lack the freedom and flexibility to act in the interests of local business, to create local growth, local investment and local jobs for the people and businesses we represent.

We all know that London needs to succeed, but we also need to do more unlock the economic potential of other cities. We have all welcomed the City and Growth Deals. We now need to go a lot further. Devolution is happening for Scotland and Wales. It's time for more devolution directly to cities, economic powerhouses who together deliver far more for our economy.

Local economies matter; through them we can raise our national output. That relies on a fundamental shift away from centralised government. Instead of cities bidding against each other, we must do more to empower democratic and business leaders to work together, to take on the international competition.

The Cities for Business partnership have set out the steps to get us there, which we all support:

  • Innovation Growth Hubs in each Core City to support local business and strengthen high-growth high-productivity sectors;
  • More local control over skills and employment services so they respond to the current and future needs of local labour markets, and people stand more chance of getting the jobs they train for;
  • Freeing up how investment is used, to create better transport and broadband links, to connect our cities and deliver the infrastructure that is fundamental to business growth;
  • Tailoring national housing policy to local needs, with more control over how existing investment is deployed;
  • Access to cheaper, cleaner energy, supporting local businesses and ending fuel poverty, with cities once again creating the utilities of the future.

Underpinning all the above is the need for greater control over funding, so local people and businesses can make the decisions that are right for them and their place. This is not just a simplistic call for more investment, it is a call for flexibility in decision making, to commission locally, to get solutions closer to the problems.

Freed from central control, we could deliver 1.16 million jobs and add £222 billion to the national economy by 2030. That's like adding the economy of Denmark to the UK. But unlike other countries, our cities only control about five per cent of the total tax raised in them.  Tax retained at the local or regional level is 10 times that in Canada, 7.5 in the US, six in Germany and five times that across the OECD on average.

Government has challenged us to create growth. We ask that Government supports us with the right tools to do the job and we will take the responsibility, get on and deliver private sector growth, stronger visitor economies and the key industry jobs to go with them.

We have formed Cities for Business to make this a reality. We ask all three parties to include a commitment to this agenda in their manifestos, and to meet with us to discuss this shared vision.

Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership

Birmingham City Council

West of England Local Enterprise Partnership Local Enterprise Partnership

Bristol City Council

Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership

Liverpool City Council

Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership

Leeds City Council

Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership

Manchester City Council

D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership

Nottingham City Council

North East Local Enterprise Partnership

Newcastle City Council

Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership

Sheffield City Council

ENDS

Media contact

Alex Linden, Westbourne Communications - alex.linden@westbournecoms.com or 020 3397 1874

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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