THE BLOG

Taking Control of Our Destiny

30/01/2014 17:35 GMT | Updated 01/04/2014 10:59 BST

You may have noticed the debate raging in the media this week about the Government's austerity programme and how that leaves core cities like Liverpool at an unfair disadvantage.

Paul Woods, the treasurer of Newcastle City Centre has proven the direct relationship between poverty in a city and the cuts they face.

Unsurprisingly, in one of the most blatant political stitch-ups in a generation, we have learnt the ugly truth - if you are already poor, like for example Liverpool with the highest deprivation score in the country, you will face the highest cuts. Hart District Council in Hampshire has the lowest deprivation score - and the lowest cuts.

Let's be clear, I am not talking about a small marginal difference. Liverpool will face cuts of 27.1% in this year alone - Hart only 1.5%.

Cuts are only part of the economic picture. Earlier this week a report showed that the economic gap between London and other cities is widening, with four out of every five private sector jobs were created in the capital.

I will not allow this to hold my city back. The same report placed Liverpool fifth in a league table for the creation of private sector jobs. We have created more than 12,000 jobs between 2010 and 2012.

But the real debate isn't London versus the rest of us. Instead, it is more about the freedoms Liverpool and other core cities need.

I discussed this when I was a guest on the BBC's Daily Politics show on Tuesday. In recent years we have seen Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland given greater devolved freedoms. Isn't the next logical step to extend this to England's big cities?

Liverpool, along with the other major cities, accounts for 27% of the English economy and it is within our gift to deliver more investment, more jobs and more growth regionally. But it is twice as hard to do that when our funding from central government has been cut by more than half.

However, my blog today isn't about the funding cuts we are facing - I know the vast majority of you reading this are well versed in the tough choices we are making. It's actually about what we could do differently in the future.

We can make great strides forward, despite the challenges we face, if we are given greater freedom over our finances.

So isn't it time we opened up the debate about how cities are funded? In total only 5% of the taxes that the residents of Liverpool pay is kept by the City Council. A huge 95% is sent to central government. This covers every tax paid including National Insurance and fuel duty through to Council Tax.

Compare that with Germany, Sweden, America and Canada though and you will find some cities keep up to 10 times more taxes locally; giving them the freedom to respond to the needs of their own communities. And in turn, those cities with greater freedom seem to flourish - New York only gets 31% of its funding from the US government.

Working with the leaders of the other core cities - Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield - along with the London councils and the mayor of London, we are campaigning for change.

Earlier this month, Liverpool City Council passed a unanimous motion calling for these greater freedoms and I will continue to campaign for this in the future. On 4 May this year I am organising Stand Up for Liverpool, and all the core cities have agreed to join us with a Stand Up rally in their own city.

I hope other towns and cities across the country will join us in calling for greater recognition of the part we play in the future of our economy. If the government really wants to see a long term, sustainable recovery outside of London I firmly believe it needs to give us the freedom to take real control of own destiny.