Government devolves powers to major cities
The government has announced an agreement to devolve powers to eight of England’s largest cities including greater control over infrastructure.
In return the cities have agreed to put in more accountable local leadership and spend their resources more efficiently with the aim of speeding up economic growth. The cities are also charged with bringing down youth unemployment and accelerating regeneration.
This will give Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield and Manchester greater freedom from Whitehall control.
They will be able to manage funding and resourcing infrastructure developments in their own areas, including setting up joint investment programmes between the private and public sector to build homes and drive regeneration.
On announcing the agreement yesterday deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said: ‘These groundbreaking deals signal a dramatic power shift, freeing cities from Whitehall control. Everyone in these eight core cities will feel the benefits - from young people looking for jobs, to businesses looking to expand.
‘Over the coming months, we are transferring more and more power from Whitehall to these cities.
‘They are the economic powerhouses of England - so it makes sense that the cities decide for themselves how to boost their local economies.’
Cities minister Greg Clark, who also made the announcement, added: ‘Now we have concluded the first deals, we will shortly set out next steps for this radical extension of power to other places across the country.’
Manchester was the first city to gain freedom from Whitehall in March, with the ability to ‘earn back’ tax from the Treasury by reinvesting in infrastructure.
Leeds and Sheffield are now planning to form combined authorities, bringing their local authorities together so they can make more strategic decisions about how money is spent and what on. Leeds will form a west Yorkshire combined authority and Sheffield will form the south Yorkshire combined authority.
Liverpool and Bristol have voted for directly elected mayors. Newcastle is working with the seven authorities across their economic area to take steps towards forming a north east combined authority, and Birmingham and Solihull has established private sector leadership across its local enterprise partnership. And Nottingham has created a new private sector-led governance structure.