We can work smarter together for growth and prosperity
Why I welcome the Adonis Report
It’s great to see an emerging cross-party consensus behind the idea that giving devolved powers to cities like Newcastle will help us rebalance our fractured economy and create more sustainable, long term growth.
Last week the Chancellor made major commitments to northern cities, and yesterday’s report by Lord Adonis – no doubt heavily influenced by his work in the North East – reinforces the view that England’s cities are major economic powerhouses with enormous untapped potential.
It hasn’t always been this way, our cities were once at the forefront of social and economic change. We led the way on everything from manufacturing technology to public health.
But while other countries have built on this and realised the potential of a balanced economy – economies that aren’t centred narrowly around a capital city – we’ve allowed it to slip from our consciousness.
The result is that today, we have an unbalanced and fractured economy that I believe helps to hold our cities and our people back.
But there is an answer, and it involves inviting the Government to work in partnership to deliver more and quicker. We want more powers so we can compete on a global stage.
In Newcastle we’ve already seen how loosening the ties between ourselves and Westminster is starting to create jobs and boost our city’s reputation as a place to do business.
Our City Deal, allows us to borrow to fund development and use the additional business rates to pay the loan back. The City Deal will see us invest £92m in our economic future to generate a massive £1bn return over the next 25 years.
And we’ve made a commitment as seven councils in the north east, to join together to create a combined authority to create opportunities for a population of over 2 million, working with business and our universities to create more and better jobs.
Now imagine the potential if, as the Adonis report recommends, the North East Combined Authority received control over full revenue from business rates.
It would pay for better infrastructure, better housing, better jobs and more support for business, and we could do all this without costing the taxpayer a penny more. Crucially, more decisions taken locally would not only promote growth but breathe new life into local democracy.
It’s time we unleashed the power of cities and loosened the restrictions placed upon them by central Government.