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The Mayor

Mayors unite to call for major new programme of devolution to city regions

Mayors call for more control over public services including skills, training and apprenticeship services, as well as real influence over programmes designed to help people get back to work.

Britain’s seven regional and city-wide Mayors will today meet for the first time and issue a united call for the Government to significantly increase the pace and scale of devolution in order to boost economic growth in Britain and to improve public services.

London is today hosting the first of what is planned to be a series of summits attended by all of England’s regional and city-wide Mayors. The seven – four Conservative and three Labour -  will jointly argue that Britain remains one of the most centralised states in the western world and that devolution is the key to unlocking future growth and improving productivity across the UK.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said:

“Through devolution we have the best chance we will ever get to do things differently and take control of our own future. It will be city regions working together that drive the quickest and most progressive change in the future which is why today’s meeting is so important.    

“As we leave the EU it is vital that people here have the right skills to get on in life and drive our economy. The Government must urgently increase the speed of devolution and fully devolve skills powers and the ability to allocate the apprenticeship levy. It time to give us the tools we need to change the lives of the people we represent.” 

Mayors statement calls for the Government to significantly increase the pace and scale of devolution:

Cities and metropolitan regions are increasingly the main engines of economic growth and job creation across the world – including here in Britain. The seven areas we lead as Mayors account for nearly 39 per cent of all British growth.

This growth has brought huge benefits – not just in the cities and regions we lead. However, it has also meant challenges - including huge demand for new housing and transport infrastructure, poor air quality and pressures on public services.

Successive Governments have recognised the need to give our cities, regions and nations a greater say over their future. The last Labour Government created the London Mayoralty as well as the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly. The last Conservative-led Government established the new Metro Mayors in Greater Manchester, West Midlands, the Liverpool City Region, West of England, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and Tees Valley.

Despite this welcome progress, Britain remains one of the most centralised states in the western world. As Mayors, we have far less control over the key economic levers and far less say over the management of public services, than our counterparts in other cities around the world. This means we are less able to shape and improve our city economies or tailor services to meet the specific needs of local people.

The Government is continuing to move forward with further devolution, but the UK needs to be significantly more ambitious on both pace and scale to meet our shared future challenges. A major and sustained programme of devolution to cities and regions is in everyone’s interests across the UK.

There is no doubt that, as regional Mayors, we are also better placed to design and manage local services to meet the specific needs of local people. Most urgently, we need action to devolve control over skills, training and apprenticeship services as well as real influence over programmes designed to help people get back to work.

We are seeking more control and powers, based on the individual needs of our regions - criminal justice, health and care services, work and pension issues and schools.

Crucially, this should include significant fiscal devolution to city regions. Rather than individual Government grants or handouts, we should be given greater control over existing taxes and the revenues they create. This would give us the tools and incentives we need to increase future economic growth and create new jobs right across the UK.

We represent people from every corner of England and come from different political parties, but we are united in our shared belief that the key to Britain’s future success is giving our cities and metropolitan areas more control. We have come together for the first time today to ask the Government to work with us so that together we can secure future economic growth, create new jobs for the people we represent, build a fairer society and improve public services across the UK.

Signed: Andy Burnham (Greater Manchester), Sadiq Khan (London), Tim Bowles (West of England), Steve Rotheram (Liverpool City Region), Ben Houchen (Tees Valley), James Palmer (Cambridgeshire and Peterborough), and Andy Street (West Midlands).

Article Published: 14/12/2018 09:30 AM