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Osborne's cities devolution plan

Published 14/05/2015

George Osborne will tell cities outside London it is time for them to take control of their own affairs
George Osborne will tell cities outside London it is time for them to take control of their own affairs

It is time for major cities in England to take control of their own affairs, the Chancellor is expected to declare today.

Making his first major speech of the new Parliament, George Osborne will promise "radical devolution" for cities to allow them to grow their local economies.

The plans under the Cities Devolution Bill will help to implement the so-called northern powerhouse vision Mr Osborne has previously outlined as a way to rebalance the UK economy.

His speech, as reported by the Guardian, will explain that cities will be given power over local transport, housing, planning, policing and public health.

"The old model of trying to run everything in our country from the centre of London is broken," Mr Osborne is expected to say.

"It's led to an unbalanced economy. It's made people feel remote from the decisions that affect their lives. It's not good for our prosperity or our democracy."

He will address places outside London: "I say to these cities: it is time for you to take control of your own affairs."

In the last budget Mr Osborne announced a deal allowing councils in Greater Manchester, Cheshire East and Cambridge to keep revenues generated from additional business rates as their local economies grow.

He has previously said devolution must go hand-in-hand with the establishment of an elected mayor.

Today he is expected to reiterate that, saying people must have a "single pointy of accountability".

Manchester is the first city set to benefit from extra powers, with plans for an elected "metro mayor" for the whole of the Greater Manchester region.

Describing the new law as a "bold step", Mr Osborne will say he is open to approaches from other cities wishing to follow the same route.

Shadow chancellor Chris Leslie said: "Labour supports genuine devolution to all parts of England, as well as to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. But communities have heard promises before and they will be no clearer today about looming decisions on funding.

"Devolution needs to be part of a UK-wide plan, not a series of one-off deals done by the Chancellor. The Government's piecemeal approach threatens to leave many areas behind.

"In the last parliament, the most deprived communities were hit the hardest and the North had bigger reductions to local government budgets than in the rest of the country."

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