Greater Manchester Combined Authority has today welcomed a fresh report calling for greater freedoms for cities and city regions.

The RSA Growth Commission Report, Empowering Metro Growth, makes the case that giving cities greater decision-making powers and financial flexibilities will create greater and more sustainable economic growth across the country,ultimately enabling them to become financially self-sustainble.

The report claims that devolution of powers and responsibilities to the 15 largest urban areas could boost the economy by £79bn a year by 2030 and argues that such a settlement should run alongside Devo Max for Scotland, with draft legislation put in place by January 2015.

Lord Peter Smith, chair of Greater Manchester Combined Authority and leader of Wigan Council, said: “The case for devolution to places such as Greater Manchester is gaining more momentum all the time. Documents like this latest report show that it’s not wishful thinking but based on hard evidence about how cities can reach their full economic potential with more freedoms. If we’re allowed to shape our own destiny, we can do more to create jobs and prosperity and more to ensure that Greater Manchester people benefit from – and contribute to – this success.

“In the face of the compelling case for empowering our great cities, it’s important that politicians from all the main parties demonstrate their commitment to making this happen.”

In its wide ranging recommendations, It argues that the UK’s political economy was so over centralised it was ‘not fit for purpose’ and could not deal with future challenges.

‘Decentralisation would empower metros with the capacity to respond more dynamically to the needs and opportunities of their economies,’ it said.

‘Those metros with the most robust governance structures, which have a track record of delivery and risk management, should be considered for “devolved city status”.

That status would secure the same rights as devolved administrations, it said. ‘Powers and responsibilities would be agreed between the devolved city-region and central government and might vary by time and place.’

The Commission said this could include the flexibility to borrow from the open market and the right to raise and retain a range of taxes. It might also involve giving city-regions longer funding settlements of up to ten years.

Charlotte Alldritt, secretary to the RSA City Growth Commission, said: ‘During the 19th century, metropolitan industrial growth drove our national economic success and established a strong industrial heritage of which many of our city-regions can be proud.

‘The challenge is now to ensure these places have the capacity to fulfil their economic potential in the 21st century – whether through better connectivity, leveraging the power of data in public service reform, or by fostering their creative, innovative economies.’


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