Labour will deliver the biggest devolution of economic power and funding to England’s city and county regions for generations, Ed Balls will pledge today.
The Shadow Chancellor will say that plans to devolve £30 billion of funding over five years – including funding for housing, transport, business support, employment and adult skills – will be at the heart of the next Labour government’s Spending Review.
He will also pledge that a Labour Treasury will allow city and county regions which come together in combined authorities to keep 100 per cent of extra business rates revenue generated by additional growth. They will then be able to invest this to support further business growth in their regions.
And he will insist that all areas will be able to access these freedoms and that areas which choose not to have an elected Mayor will not get a second-class deal.
Ed Miliband and Ed Balls will publish details of their plans today which will be discussed at a meeting of Labour’s new English Regional Shadow Cabinet Committee, which includes a group of Labour leaders of local councils and combined authorities from across the country.
Speaking ahead of the meeting in Milton Keynes today, Ed Balls said:
“Too many parts of our country are being left behind by the Tories. Labour’s economic plan is about ensuring every part of the country and all working people can benefit from economic recovery, not just a few.
“This means backing the cities, towns and regions of our country which are the engines of growth and job creation.
“So the next Labour government and a Labour Treasury will deliver the biggest devolution of economic power and funding to England’s city and county regions for generations. Our plans to devolve £30 billion of funding over a Parliament will be at the heart of Labour’s first Spending Review.
“We want to see not just a Northern powerhouse, but Midlands, Eastern and Southern powerhouses too. We will not only back our great cities, but our towns and county regions too. Not just urban areas, but also rural areas.
“Local areas will be in the driving seat on key decisions affecting their local economies – with new powers over back-to-work schemes, to drive house building, and to integrate, invest in and plan transport infrastructure. And we will also let city and county regions keep all the additional business rates revenue generated by growth.
“Labour’s radical plans go much further than anything David Cameron and George Osborne are offering. The Tories scrapped the regional development agencies, cut funding more deeply in more deprived areas and have totally failed to rebalance the economy.
“And unlike the Tories, we won’t short-change areas which choose not to have an elected Mayor by giving them a second-class deal. Every part of England will benefit from Labour’s plans, not just a chosen few.”