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Labour to promise ‘biggest devolution of economic power and funding to England ’s city and county regions for generations’

Labour to promise ‘biggest devolution of economic power and funding to England ’s city and county regions for generations’

🕔02.Feb 2015

At last week’s Think Birmingham event Centre for Cities chief Andrew Carter asked if anybody could explain Labour party policy on devolution. Today,  Ed Balls will attempt to fill in the gaps while in Milton Keynes. 

Labour will deliver the “biggest devolution of economic power and funding to England ’s city and county regions for generations”, the Shadow Chancellor will pledge.

The Shadow Chancellor will repeat its previously announced plans to devolve £30 billion of funding over five years – including funding for housing, transport, business support, employment and adult skills – which it says will be at the heart of its first spending review if Labour takes office after 7 May.

Labour says areas not choosing to adopt an Elected Mayor will not receive a “second class deal” whilst it indicated that the Midlands as well as other areas should have their own ‘powerhouse’ as well as north.

Much of what Mr Balls is trailed as saying today has been already highlighted, including in his speech at the Birmingham Post business awards last year. The Shadow Chancellor has been busy already today responding to the opinion of the Boots boss and an attack from university vice chancellors, including those of Birmingham and Aston universities, on Labour party policy toward tuition fees.

Balls will also pledge that a Labour Treasury will allow city and county regions which come together in combined authorities to keep 100 per cent of extra business rates revenue generated by additional growth. They will then be able to invest this to support further business growth in their regions.

He will insist that all areas will be able to access these freedoms and that areas which choose not to have an Elected Mayor will not get a “second-class deal.”

Ed Miliband and Ed Balls will publish details of their plans to be discussed at a meeting of Labour’s new English Regional Shadow Cabinet Committee, which includes a group of Labour leaders of local councils and combined authorities from across the country.

Speaking ahead of the meeting in Milton Keynes today, Ed Balls said:

Too many parts of our country are being left behind by the Tories . Labour’s economic plan is about ensuring every part of the country and all working people can benefit from economic recovery, not just a few.

This means backing the cities, towns and regions of our country which are the engines of growth and job creation.

So the next Labour government and a Labour Treasury will deliver the biggest devolution of economic power and funding to England ’s city and county regions for generations. Our plans to devolve £30 billion of funding over a Parliament will be at the heart of Labour’s first Spending Review.

We want to see not just a Northern powerhouse, but Midlands, Eastern and Southern powerhouses too. We will not only back our great cities, but our towns and county regions too. Not just urban areas, but also rural areas.

Local areas will be in the driving seat on key decisions affecting their local economies – with new powers over back-to-work schemes, to drive house building, and to integrate, invest in and plan transport infrastructure. And we will also let city and county regions keep all the additional business rates revenue generated by growth.

Labour’s radical plans go much further than anything David Cameron and George Osborne are offering. The Tories scrapped the regional development agencies, cut funding more deeply in more deprived areas and have totally failed to rebalance the economy.

And unlike the Tories , we won’t short-change areas which choose not to have an elected Mayor by giving them a second-class deal. Every part of England will benefit from Labour’s plans, not just a chosen few.

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