Britain’s seven regional and city-wide mayors will today (1 Nov) meet for the first time and issue a united call for the government to significantly increase the pace and scale of devolution.
London is today hosting the first of what is planned to be a series of summits attended by all of England’s regional and city-wide mayors.
The seven – four Conservative and three Labour - will jointly argue that Britain remains one of the most centralised states in the western world and that devolution is the key to unlocking future growth and improving productivity across the UK.
Cities and metropolitan regions are the main engines of economic growth and job creation in the UK - and the seven areas under direct control of England’s regional and city-wide mayors account for nearly 39% of all British growth (GVA), up from 35% in 1997.
The mayors will call for further devolved control over public services including skills, training and apprenticeship services, as well as real influence over programmes designed to help people get back to work.
The will also call for a significant increase in fiscal devolution, with regions given greater control over existing taxes and the revenues they create, rather than having to rely on government grants. Greater fiscal devolution will give cities the tools and incentives to increase growth and job creation.
Today’s summit at City Hall in London is the first time that all of England’s regional and city-wide mayors have come together. In addition to Sadiq Khan, attending are Andy Burnham (Greater Manchester), Tim Bowles (West of England), Ben Houchen (Tees Valley), James Palmer (Cambridgeshire and Peterborough), Steve Rotheram (Liverpool City Region) and Andy Street (West Midlands).
Khan said: “We may come from different parts of the country and represent different political parties but we all share the same belief – that the best way to secure ongoing prosperity across the country is by giving city regions more control.
"Many of the most dynamic and prosperous cities and regions in other countries have mayors with substantial powers and funding, and it is high time we followed suit.
“There is no doubt that, as regional Mayors, we are the best-placed people to deliver services to meet the specific need of local people – so we are calling on government to speed up the devolution process and give us more ability to improve peoples’ lives.”
Andy Street, mayor of the West Midlands, said: “This government more than any other has pushed the devolution agenda with the creation of combined authorities and mayor's.
"I believe now is the time for government go a step further and provide us with the tools to tackle the challenges and seize the opportunities we each face. We are already proving our worth, now let us really kick on with the job."
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham said: “Through devolution we have the best chance we will ever get to do things differently and take control of our own future.
"It will be city regions working together that drive the quickest and most progressive change in the future which is why today’s meeting is so important.
“As we leave the EU it is vital that people here have the right skills to get on in life and drive our economy. The government must urgently increase the speed of devolution and fully devolve skills powers and the ability to allocate the apprenticeship levy. It time to give us the tools we need to change the lives of the people we represent.”
Mayor of Tees Valley Combined Authority, Ben Houchen, said: “Everyone knows that the best answers for local people will come from local people.
"Our first devolution deal was ground-breaking, but l want to see the government build on this ambition and go even further by handing more powers to local communities.”
Steve Rotheram, mayor of Liverpool City Region, said: “Devolution is the single most important means of achieving a more economically balanced and prosperous UK.
"It transfers powers, resources and autonomy to the places that will be our country’s most important growth engines. It is vitally important that the government sustains and accelerates its commitment to devolution.”