Labour will move more civil service jobs outside London and devolve economic power and funding to city and county regions – Ed’s speech at the Birmingham Post Business Awards

In a speech at the Birmingham Post Business Awards, Ed said:

“Labour’s Zero-Based Review of public spending is doing what any successful business does: examining every pound spent, rooting out waste and looking at how things can be done differently to save money.

“Our review – led by the shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Chris Leslie – has found that the proportion of civil service jobs located in London has actually increased since 2010.

“This needs to change if we are to make savings to help get the deficit down and rebalance the economy too.

“So I will ask every government department to draw up a plan for civil service relocation outside London. And a Labour Treasury will set an objective for savings over the course of the next decade.

“The last Labour government made progress on moving civil service jobs and government activities outside London. Indeed as Schools Secretary I oversaw the move of the QCA/Ofqual, to Coventry. But I’m clear that the next Labour government will need to go further. And we will.”

On Labour’s plans to devolve economic power and funding to city and county regions, Ed said:

“We have to earn our way to rising prosperity. But we will not succeed unless we use the talents of all and ensure that everyone can benefit from economic recovery and not just a few. And that means backing the cities and regions of our country which are the engines of growth and job creation.

“We have to devolve from Whitehall and back local businesses and local government to invest and grow and shape solutions to local challenges.

“One of the things this government did was to abolish the Regional Development Agencies – a destructive act which Business Secretary, Vince Cable, described as “Maoist and chaotic”.

“The LEPs which have been put in their place have too little power and too little resource to really make a difference. But our local economies cannot withstand another major upheaval of the local growth infrastructure. Evolution, not revolution, is the right way forward.

“So our approach is to strengthen partnerships between local authorities and independent Local Enterprise Partnerships – and the business and higher education leaders represented by LEPs.

“And we will have a bold offer of devolution to city and county regions, as recommended by the Adonis report.

“The next Labour government will radically devolve power and £30 billion of funding over a Parliament to city and county regions in every part of England. Not just a Northern Powerhouse, but a Midlands Powerhouse too. Devolution not just to cities, but across all our towns and county regions too.

“With our plans, local areas will be in the driving seat on key decisions affecting their local economies. We will give groups of local authorities substantial new powers over back-to-work schemes, to drive house building, and to integrate, invest in and plan transport infrastructure.

“And a Labour Treasury will also allow city and county regions that come together in combined authorities to keep all the additional business rates revenue generated by growth.”

And Ed said that areas which do not wish to have an elected mayor should not be short-changed by the Treasury:

“We know how important it is not just to get a close collaboration between business and politics, but across local government too.

“In this region, we need collaboration between Birmingham and the Black Country. Because you know when it comes to transport, planning or skills, business logic and local authority boundaries rarely overlap.

“That is why we have said our proposals for devolution are conditional on local authorities coming together to collaborate in combined authorities. But I do not think it is either necessary or wise for Westminster politicians to start dictating the particular political structures which will best make devolution work in each sub-region.

“London has an elected mayor and that is working for London. Greater Manchester, after years of working closely together across 10 local authorities, has decided to have an elected city-region Mayor and that is something I support if it is what Greater Manchester wants.

“But I do not believe it is right for the Chancellor to insist on elected mayors as a condition for devolving powers and resources – a step which many of those areas have rejected in the recent past.

“And I do not think it is right to short-change city and county regions in the North-East, West and South Yorkshire, the East Midlands or here in the West Midlands by offering up a lesser package of devolution if they do not believe an elected Mayor works for them.

“To deny the freedoms and resources the government has granted to Greater Manchester to the Midlands, the North and other parts of England because they will not agree to a Whitehall political blueprint would be unfair and damage growth and job creation.

“Those places which choose to have a combined authority but not to have an elected mayor should not be short-changed by this government. And the next Labour government will not short-change them.”

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Posted November 26th, 2014 by Ed's team

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