THE BLOG

Letting Londoners Run London Will Be Good for All of Britain

17/11/2014 16:57 GMT | Updated 17/01/2015 10:59 GMT

Britain is one of the most centralised countries in the developed world. Too much power is focused in the hands of Whitehall officials and too little in Britain's nations, regions and cities. Local leaders with expert knowledge of the economy and characteristics of their area have too little control over the public services that serve their communities. In London for example, the Mayor and Boroughs control only 7% of the taxes raised from Londoners, compared to nearly 50% in New York and 70% in Tokyo.

Londoners face huge challenges, like the growing gap between the rich and the poor and the desperate housing crisis. But London's Government simply doesn't have the levers it needs to get to grips with these problems. We need real change. That's why Labour is committed to devolving significant power over public services and funding to local areas - including London.

Devolution can lead to higher growth, more jobs, better public services and more efficient Government. In London, it will give us the tools we need to begin tackling the growing gap between rich and poor and build the homes we need.

The devolution debate in the UK is often portrayed as 'London versus the rest of the UK'. In reality, devolving more power and responsibility to London's Government is not just good for Londoners, it's good for the rest of the UK too.

The London Finance Commission's call for devolution to London was strongly supported by city leaders in Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Sheffield and elsewhere. They understand that the real debate isn't between London and their cities, but between local government (including London) and national Government. Nobody is talking about giving London a bigger slice of the pie, but about giving London more control over the slice it already receives.

The devolution debate can be complicated. It is focused on intricate funding streams and formulas that are incomprehensible to most people. As a result, the public hasn't always been properly engaged with the issue. But when the benefits are explained simply and clearly, devolution is overwhelmingly popular. Four out of five Londoners support giving more powers to London, and when I've spoken on the topic, either in public meetings or on television debates, our ideas have been met with almost unanimous support.

Last week I launched a new campaign - 'Let Londoners Run London'. Because we shouldn't just impose devolution settlements on local people. Instead, we must engage local leaders and communities in a proper conversation about the future of their area, and actively build support for giving more power to local people.

The conditions in London are right for real change. It's time we kept more of the benefits of our growth, so we can tackle inequality and fix the housing crisis.

Sadiq Khan MP is Shadow London Minister. Sadiq is a panellist on the Evening Standard's 'Does London need a new deal from Westminster?' debate on Monday at Guildhall. You can watch the Let Londoners Run London video below