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Question for Birmingham: what tax powers do you want for London

Question for Birmingham: what tax powers do you want for London

🕔21.Oct 2016

Academics, business representatives and council officials will be among those giving evidence to the London Finance Commission in Birmingham this morning.

Yes, that’s right. Members of the London Finance Commission have found their way up to little ole Birmingham to hear what our finest have to say about the kind of fiscal powers the Mayor of London should be granted.

Sadiq Khan, London’s relatively new Mayor, asked the commission to reform in the light of the Brexit vote to look again at the issue and help make a further case to government.

The Commission meets today under the chairmanship of Tony Travers, a leading expert in local government from the London School of Economics. Other members include Alex Jones, boss of the Centre for Cities think tank; Ben Rogers, from the Centre for London; and Colin Stanbridge, chief executive of the London Chamber of Commerce and the man who convinced the Mayor to bring the old band back together.

The Commission’s first report (Raising the Capital, 2013) argued that funding arrangements in the capital should allow London government to make additional self-determined investments in its own infrastructure, both to cater for the growth already forecast for its population and economy, and to promote additional economic growth.

The Mayor believes that the “changed circumstances” following the Brexit vote have moved the issue of fiscal powers up the agenda. London voted to remain in the EU. It has particular concerns in relation to its financial services sector and the free movement of labour.

Those giving evidence today include Mark Rogers, Birmingham city council chief executive; academics Nigel Driffield (Warwick) and David Bailey (Aston) with business represented by Ahmed Farooq, chair of BPS Birmingham, and Henrietta Brealey, policy & strategic relationships director at Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce.

The Commission says it wants to ensure the process is beneficial to the whole of the UK, including those cities and regions like Birmingham and West Midlands, which are actively pursuing their own devolution journeys.

Richard Parker, PwC consultant to the WMCA, will also be in front of the Commission. If Siôn Simon is elected mayor on 4th May 2017, Mr Parker will become his chief of staff. Mr Simon’s team will be closely monitoring the Commission as its own West Midlands Fiscal Commission prepares to start work. It is expected that the Simon campaign will announce more details on their commission in the coming weeks.

The London Finance Commission’s interim report includes proposals for devolving a proportion of income tax and VAT to London and control of the apprenticeship levy. Members of the Commission are particularly keen to devolve the full suite of property taxes.

The Commission says its purpose is to:

help the mayor and London’s local authorities improve the tax and public spending arrangements for London in order to promote jobs, growth and greater equality.

The public evidence session is taking place in Birmingham Council House this morning.

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