15 October 2015 14:00
Regional devolution could boost economy by £80bn
At least £80 billion in economic growth could be unlocked if the Government shifts widespread powers and funding to local areas, council leaders have said.
A total of 34 devolution proposals - from cities, towns and counties in England - have been submitted to the Government this month ahead of its Spending Review. The bids include calls for new local infrastructure and economic development powers in order to close widening economic gaps across the country.
The Local Government Association (LGA) says that London and the South East accounted for more of the UK's economic output than the North East, North West, Yorkshire and Humber, South West and East of England combined in 2013.
The LGA says productivity will be lifted if the Government matches the ambitions of communities by devolving powers and budgets to the UK's regions. It is calling for at least £60 billion of central Government spending to be devolved to local areas in the Spending Review.
This, it says, would allow local leaders to improve transport links and business support and close skills gaps - all barriers currently holding businesses back. It would also meet the Government's aim to prioritise "promoting growth and productivity through the radical devolution of powers to local areas in England".
Key areas that would be improved under local control, according to the LGA, are: superfast broadband, transport, skills training and business support.
Gary Porter, LGA Chairman, said:
"Decades of centralised control over funding for local growth have failed to produce a more balanced economy. It is time to spend smarter on infrastructure to get maximum value from every public pound. This starts with a much more effective and efficient approach to investing in local growth."
He added: "Local leaders know their local economies best and hold the key to removing the obstacles limiting the productivity of businesses and holding back local growth. We need the Spending Review to hand us the fairer funding and powers to unleash the full potential of local businesses and economies."