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Budget 2015: City Devolution

18th March 2015

  • ResPublica

ResPublica's response to the last Budget of the current Parliament

The Chancellor’s budget includes a number of announcements about city-based devolution:

  • A new devolution deal for West Yorkshire Combined Authority with powers over skills, business support, transport, employment and housing
  • Business Rate retention pilots in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, and, subject to formal approval of Greater Manchester Combined Authority, in Greater Manchester and East Cheshire. Effective from the 1st April 2015 this will allow the areas to retain 100% retention of any additional growth in business rates above expected forecasts
  • Sharing pilots in Leeds City Region and Greater Manchester (2015-16) to trial local sharing initiatives in the areas of shared transport, shared public space and health and social care
  • Further devolved powers to the Mayor of London, including over planning and skills. This will allow the Mayor to accelerate the provision of new homes by reducing planning delays, and to tailor decisions over skills provision to London’s needs. The government will consult on devolving planning powers over sightlines and wharves to the Mayor of London, allowing the Mayor to accelerate provision of new homes by reducing planning delays
  • Commitment to further city devolution deals in Cardiff, Aberdeen and Inverness.

ResPublica welcomes these announcements. Building on the agreements in Greater Manchester, Sheffield City Region and Glasgow, we look forward to further details on the new devolution deal for West Yorkshire and to further announcements about additional city deals. We welcome the Business Rate retention pilots, which we have called for, and which we believe will see local areas benefit from increases in local economic growth rate and business rate revenues, by raising incentives to boost jobs and growth.

However, ResPublica is disappointed that the Budget did not contain more detail about infrastructure in the North. We would like to have seen the importance of investment in infrastructure in the North made a powerful and driving theme in the Budget.

Investment in transport is only referred to with regard to the Transport for the North draft strategy document, which will not be finalized until March 2016. It is disappointing to see no detail about how the £13 billion allocated to this programme will be distributed. ResPublica was also disappointed to see no mention of the proposed High-Speed 3 rail line linking Liverpool to Hull.

Elsewhere, ResPublica welcomed the raising of the National Minimum Wage, as we have called for repeatedly, but we would like to see action taken to encourage employers to pay the Living Wage.

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