It was no accident that Ed Miliband chose Leeds to launch his policies on devolution to city and county authorities.
The policies take on key recommendations of Lord Adonis’s review.
They recognize something we – and the Labour Party – have been saying for some time now – that City Regions like Leeds have the potential to be the powerhouses of growth.
They respond to repeated requests by people like Keith Wakefield, here in Leeds, for local powers to raise taxes.
And they build precisely on the success of Labour Councils – Leeds foremost among them – in providing skills for the young, through apprenticeships and training.
They are also a reminder of the fact that the South Bank development in Leeds is one of the largest regeneration projects in Europe.
You can read the full policy and recommendations below.
This is a truly historic reversal of a century of centralization.
It is a vote of confidence in the ability of councils like Leeds, under Labour, to deliver the real growth the UK desperately needs.
Britain – and Leeds – really would be Better under Labour
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This historic reversal of a century of centralisation would lead to:
◦ The creation of more Combined Authorities modelled on that which already exists for Greater Manchester to tackle the chronic problems of poor skills, infrastructure and economic development.
◦ These regional economic powerhouses would receive additional Business Rates revenue generated by growth to invest in building further success. This would be revenue neutral – offset by reductions in grants – but would mean that any additional income generated by growth would be invested locally.
◦ Local Enterprise Partnerships would be strengthened to give businesses a direct say over growth strategies and priorities, backed by a substantial single pot of funding to invest in economic development.
◦ More than £30bn of funding identified by the Adonis Review could be devolved to combined authorities, existing local authorities and LEPs over the course of a parliament – three times more than is planned now. This would include funding for housing, transport, business support, employment and adult skills.
Labour will accept the Adonis Review’s proposals for a long term innovation strategy in science and research. This will help create new products and improve the UK’s record of underinvestment in R&D.
◦ Setting a long term national funding framework for innovation policy similar to that which was put in place by the last government for science, and giving small innovative firms greater access to government research budgets for all departments.
◦ Labour will also consider proposals to expand of the number and capacity of Catapult Centres which help to commercialise research in key growth areas such as manufacturing and cell therapy.
The Adonis Review makes a series of recommendations for using the power of government to nurture the growth of small businesses and support exporters. These build on policy already announced by Labour and are being developed by the policy review for the next manifesto. They include:
◦ Setting a target for 25% of all government procurement contracts to go to SMEs both directly and through supply chains.
◦ Establishing a new Small Business Administration whose primary task would be to drive policy and practice to meet this target, as well as providing support for SMEs across government.
◦ Creating a regional network of Small Business Investment Companies in line with Labour’s policy on introducing regional banks
◦ Offering better support through LEPs for business hubs to spread apprenticeships and help start-up businesses
◦ Reforming UK Trade & Investment and UK Export Finance so they give better support to business.
The Adonis Review makes further recommendations to address the UK’s near record levels of youth unemployment and persistent skills shortages. Measures being considered include:
◦ Expanding high quality apprenticeships – with a threefold increase in those for school leavers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.
◦ Establishing at least 100 new University Technical Colleges and create a new “Teach Next” organisation for successful career switchers to teach maths and science.
Giving teenagers clearer navigation towards work or an apprenticeship by appointing directors of enterprise and employment in schools.