Nick Clegg Announces More Powers For UK Cities
Major UK cities are to be given new financial powers to borrow and spend, as part of a government initiative to decentralise decision making and boost growth, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced today.
Under the plans, eight cities outside of London will see the current system of applying for capital for individual schemes replaced, so that they are given a single pot of money to spend at their own discretion. They will also be allowed to borrow against future tax revenues, with the power to set business rates also decentralised.
Power over housing, public transport and infrastructure projects will also be handed back to city administrations in Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle, Nottingham, Manchester and Sheffield, Clegg will say.
The problem is that the previous government tried to reinvent our cities from Whitehall. They were like an overbearing parent - Wishing great things for their children, throwing money at them, dressing them up in new clothes. But refusing, ultimately, to let them stand on their own two feet," Clegg said.
Cities outside of London and the South East risk being "left behind" by the government's pre-existing growth strategy, while enterprise development zones are "outdated", according to a report from the Work Foundation think thank released on Wednesday.
The government needs to give local growth bodies more funding and more independence if they are to develop urban centres away from the capital, the report said.
“The Chancellor seems to think that many cities outside London are still stuck in the 1980’s, and can only be turned around with outdated policies like Enterprise Zones," Lizzie Crowley, the report's author and a researcher at the Work Foundation, said.
"What this one-size-fits-all policy ignores is that our most successful cities, such as Milton Keynes, have economies driven by strong business services. Many cities outside London have a huge amount of economic potential, but they need the freedom to build on their own strengths, and to develop a unique appeal to businesses.”
Data from the Work Foundation, and from the Office of National Statistics, have shown that there are increasing imbalances across the UK in employment and economic opportunity.