Dan Peters 03 December 2014

Autumn Statement: Further devolution deals fail to materialise

Chancellor George Osborne failed to announce any further devolution deals in today’s Autumn Statement.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg had said devolution deals would be drawn up for Leeds and Sheffield in time for the statement but Mr Osborne only made a vague reference to devolution in his speech.

Mr Osborne said the Manchester devolution deal would have been seen as ‘completely impossible’ six months ago.

He added: ‘We’ve delivered in Manchester and my door is open to other cities who want to follow their cross-party lead.’

Mr Osborne said the Government wanted to do more to build a northern powerhouse and create a ‘truly national recovery’ because the economy had been ‘too unbalanced’ for decades.

He continued: ‘Our ambition is to build a northern powerhouse as a complement to the strength of our capital city, where we bring together our great cities of the north.

‘The sheer scale of the devolution to Scotland now makes the case for English votes for English laws unanswerable.’

A spokesman for the Key Cities group said: ‘Key Cities welcome the chancellor’s announcement today that the door is open for cities seeking further devolution of powers, but the time for talking about devolution is coming to an end.

‘We have an opportunity to liberate powerful engines of future growth - the UK’s mid-sized cities – and we need the Government to start backing our ambitious leadership.

‘If the Government really believes in creating growth outside of London, it must empower all cities that are determined and willing to support their local communities and UK Plc.

‘Given the Government has identified small and medium-sized enterprises as key drivers of economic growth, it would seem sensible to apply the same mindset to cities.

‘Our mid-sized cities are dynamic, agile and have great potential to deliver growth.

‘They would be able to do even better if the Government embraced devolution to all our cities.’

Mr Osborne also announced full devolution of business rates to Wales, which he said was a ‘great opportunity’ to grow the nation’s economy.

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