A leading think tank has called on whoever wins the upcoming General Election to transfer significant powers away from Westminster.
In a new paper published today (November 20), IPPR North calls on the next government to reverse decades of ‘damaging centralisation’, by giving power back to places across England, starting in the North.
The paper argues that ‘Brexit’s grip on our politics’ is set to continue for the ‘foreseeable future’, which is why it is ‘time to devolve real power’.
‘Devolution is vital in order to address the economic, environmental and democratic challenges that divide the country,’ the paper states.
‘The evidence shows devolution helps boost economies – driving up investment, jobs and productivity by putting powers in the hands of those who know their area, and who directly benefit from seeing it thrive.’
In order to reverse the effects of centralisation, the analysis calls on the next government to be a ‘devolution parliament’.
Specifically, it calls for local government to be funded fairly with EU regional funds replaced with a ‘no-strings-attached’ system.
The paper also recommends local areas be given the option of developing local taxes, like tourism levies and business rate supplements.
It also argues that the next administration should develop a regional tier of government, which could cover areas like transport, trade and investment and innovation.
And it says the regional tier must be accountable to council leaders and metro mayors, with trade unions and businesses also involved.
‘In just a matter of weeks, the election will be over and a new Parliament will focus on Brexit,’ said the IPPR North’s interim director, Arianna Giovannini.
‘But to tackle the deep economic and social challenges that we face, we need more than another ‘Brexit Parliament’. We need a “Devolution Parliament’ too”
‘The UK is uniquely and disproportionately centralised. Power hoarded in Westminster has damaged places like the North where austerity has had a disproportionate and devastating impact. But all regions have suffered – including London.’
Luke Raikes, senior research fellow at IPPR North, added: ‘We need a Devolution Parliament, which irreversibly shifts power to the regions, towns and cities of England so they can take control of their own economies and bridge the deep divisions that centralisation has helped create.’
It comes days after the chairman of the County Councils Network, Cllr David Williams called on the incoming government to set out a ‘practical devolution settlement for all’ as he addressed hundreds of delegates at the network’s annual conference.
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