Mark Conrad 05 December 2022

Labour outlines huge devolution push

Labour outlines huge devolution push image
Image: Rupert Rivett / Shutterstock.com.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has proposed removing the ‘dead hand of centralisation’ by devolving to local government wide-ranging powers over employment, growth, transport and education.

Speaking at the launch of a major policy report by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown today, Sir Keir outlined devolution proposals that will shape the party’s next election manifesto.

Mr Brown and an expert panel have been working on the 155-page report for two years, and have suggested a major devolution of powers to mayors, local authorities and devolved governments throughout England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

They have suggested 40 key reforms, which, Mr Starmer said, represented potentially the ‘biggest ever transfer of power from Westminster to the British people’.

If the plans within the report are approved, Sir Keir said Labour would:

  • revise the UK constitution through common law to explicitly recognise devolved powers and roles for local areas and nations within the UK;
  • ensure an economic growth plan for every major city, town and area in the UK controlled by councils, mayors and cities;
  • create 288 new economic clusters covering every region of the UK, in which jobs, skills, planning and transport would be devolved to boost economic growth and deliver tens of thousands of jobs;
  • devolve control of 638 job centres to local authorities to tailor local skills to local employment;
  • hand control of 200 education colleges to local authorities;
  • give the UK Infrastructure Bank and British Business Bank explicit missions to address regional economic inequality through the provision of infrastructure and capital;
  • grant new fiscal powers for councils to generate revenue that would replace business rates; and
  • move 50,000 civil servants out of Whitehall.

Sir Keir told his audience in Leeds: ‘We’ve got to stop people in Westminster and Whitehall thinking that they know best.

'I don’t see it as handing power away - I see it as putting power where it should be.

'People are passionate for this change – and want us to get on with it.’

Chief executive of the Centre for Cities think-tank, Andrew Carter, said: ‘Giving local policymakers the powers and resources they need to improve public transport, support growing industries, and boost skills will be essential to driving regional economic growth.’

This article was originally published by The MJ (£).

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