A think tank has urged MPs to make this Parliament the ‘Devolution Parliament’ as it releases research that shows that England has the worst regional inequalities in the developed world.
IPPR North’s research has revealed that despite being home to just a third of people in England, almost half (47%) of the increase in jobs in the last decade was in London and the South East.
Despite this unequal distribution of job opportunities, the think tank said that these regional economic divides do not benefit people in London.
Londoners face the highest rates of income inequality in the country, as well as the highest rate of poverty in England with 28% of people in the capital trapped in relative poverty, after housing costs.
Levelling up can only be achieved by putting mayors and local leaders in the driving seat and devolving power across England, the IPPR researchers argued.
‘For too long, Westminster has hoarded power and held back prosperity in all of England’s regions, including London,’ said senior research fellow at IPPR North, Luke Raikes.
‘Levelling up should mean opening the door for all of England to benefit from devolution, while also letting areas that have devolution take on more.
‘This Parliament must be the Devolution Parliament. It is time to overturn the centralisation that’s let towns, cities and regions fall into decline. The government must give places the power and resources they need, to adapt to the decades of change that lie ahead.’
Responding to the report, Sir Richard Leese, chair of the Local Government Association’s (LGA) City Regions Board, said: ‘There is clear and significant evidence that the country gets better value for money when decisions over investment and how to run local services are taken closer to communities and businesses.
‘As this report shows, with the right powers and funding, devolution can lay the foundations for a more inclusive and prosperous economy across the whole of England.
‘Democratically-elected councils are best placed to support the Government in seizing the opportunities for growth in the years ahead. They also make a huge difference to their communities by building desperately-needed new homes, creating jobs and providing care for older and disabled people.’
He also urged the Government to publish its promised Devolution White Paper ‘as soon as possible’.
Richard Brown, deputy director at Centre for London, said that job growth in London was good for the whole country.
However, he added: ‘London leaders must work together with regional partners to make the case to central Government for infrastructure investment and devolution in every city and region, to support good growth and help people who are struggling to get by.’