A new White Paper to more powers to local areas was announced in the Chancellor’s speech to the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester today.
Chancellor Sajid Javid said the Government must deliver Brexit and move on to ‘heal the divisions in our society’.
The former communities secretary told delegates at the conference: ‘Bringing our country together also means rebalancing our economy… that’s why the first big policy decision of this government was to support the development of the Northern Powerhouse Rail.
‘And we know it’s no good just decreeing from on high what local areas need. Too many people already feel power is distant to them – be it in Brussels or Westminster.
‘So I can announce today we will bring forward a White Paper on further devolution in England. Giving more local areas more powers.’
Director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, Henri Murison, said: ‘We need further devolution in England and the White Paper announced by the Chancellor is to be welcomed, particularly if it extends to taking more control of existing local spending from Whitehall, as well as retaining taxes raised locally and allowing areas to capture the additional revenues their investments generate.
‘As well as taking democratic control, we need to better fund local transport services so that we can get more people to higher paid jobs. Investment passed directly to Mayors and Combined Authorities is the way to make this work.’
Mr Javid told the conference he would set a new target for the National Living Wage, raising it to two-thirds of median earnings in the next five years. On current forecasts, it would bring the wage up to £10.50 an hour.
He claimed he would bring in a ‘new infrastructure revolution’ with a Roads Investment Strategy to be launched soon, a National Bus Strategy next year and £5bn for full-fibre broadband.