MP to chair Labour’s ‘real change’ West Midlands fiscal commission
An inquiry to consider how devolution can better deliver tax receipts and resources from central government to the West Midlands has been set up by Labour metro mayor candidate Siôn Simon.
A Fiscal Commission will identify the benefits in terms of jobs and growth that could be delivered if the region was given a greater say in how public spending is raised and used, Mr Simon said.
The commission’s members, experts from business and education sectors, are being recruited and the body is to be chaired by Birmingham Ladywood MP Shabana Mahmood, a former shadow Treasury minister.
Mr Simon said the aim was to “redefine the West Midlands’ relationship with Whitehall”.
The inquiry will report in advance of next May’s mayoral election, and has five main objectives:
- To analyse existing arrangements for government funding and revenue-raising for the West Midlands.
- Compare current funding arrangements with similar places in the UK and internationally.
- Consider the relationship between the economic performance of places and the fiscal freedoms that are in place.
- Examine ways greater fiscal freedoms could be used to improve economic performance and competitiveness.
- Identify the benefits, in terms of jobs and inclusive growth that could be delivered if the West Midlands has a greater say in how spending is financed and how that finance is used.
Mr Simon said:
Real devolution means getting the fiscal responsibility and the resources we need to deliver real change. The danger is that the Tories will water one or both of these things down such that devolution looks like nothing of the sort.
We mustn’t be short-changed compared to other areas. We must demand devolution that gives us the real power and resources to make the best decisions for people and businesses here in the West Midlands.
I’ve established the West Midlands Fiscal Commission, chaired by one of the region’s most outstanding MPs, and bringing together experts from across the region, to plot the way forward. Their job over the next few months is to build a strong, factually driven case that can form the basis of the Mayor’s prospectus on taking office in May 2017.
Too much of this process to date has been conducted behind thickly closed doors. I’m determined to have a proper, transparent, public examination of how we move devolution forward.
Ms Mahmood insisted the commission would be much more than “politicians sitting in a room”. She said:
It will be a group of experts with experience from across the most important sectors in the West Midlands from manufacturing to higher education to establish what the best West Midlands fiscal devolution pathway looks like.
Unfortunately I have no confidence in Theresa May or the Conservatives to deliver us the best deal for the people of the West Midlands. They have no clue what they are doing with Brexit and are spending time, energy and money on widely discredited vanity projects such as new grammar schools.
The West Midlands Fiscal Commission will take a leading role in helping to shape the deal with Government and will be putting forward the strategic requirements for the next stage of devolution.
The commission will look ahead from a devolution deal between the West Midlands Combined Authority and the Government signed last year which is said to be worth £8 billion.
The body will examine how the region can secure greater devolution of tax receipts and resources to further drive growth, jobs and prosperity.
Mr Simon added:
Critically, any new funding settlement with Westminster needs to ensure that growth benefits everyone and every part of the West Midlands.
It needs to mean something and make a difference to all of our people and our businesses – it needs to be inclusive and representative.
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