Labour promise to give more growth money to the regions
08:00 08 April 2014
Ed Miliband will promise to give more money to Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex councils and local enterprise partnerships to decide how to spend if he wins power next year.
In a keynote speech in Birmingham today the Labour leader will pledge to double the amount of cash he will devolve from Whitehall to £4bn a year if regions have their blueprints for growth approved.
He will claim he wants to “reverse a century of centralisation”.
It comes just days after New Anglia Lep, which covers Norfolk and Suffolk and the GCGP Lep, which also includes King’s Lynn, put in bids to the government’s Local Growth Fund in the hope of winning a share of £2bn in 2015/16 towards their blueprint for growth and £500m over a five-year spending period.
The Labour leader and shadow chancellor Ed Balls will write to the leaders of every council, university and local enterprise partnership today to ask them to draw up joint plans to boost growth and private sector jobs which they would have to submit to a Labour government within nine months of the general election in May 2015.
Mr Miliband will say today that regions which meet “strict tests” will be given powers over transport and housing infrastructure funding, as well as to run the Work Programme and spend skills funding.
Lord Heseltine urged the government to devolve more cash from Whitehall, but the government plans have not gone as far as the former Tory minister suggested.
Mr Miliband will say: “Michael Heseltine’s review called for a massive devolution of funding from Whitehall to the cities. But David Cameron and George Osborne allocated just £2bn for a Local Growth Fund in their spending review for 2015-16.”
Former transport secretary Lord Adonis launched a review into regional growth for Labour last year and Mr Miliband will say: “He proposes a new bargain: cities and towns that agree to come together with local businesses to plan for their economic future will be given new powers over funding for infrastructure, skills and economic development.
“They will be able to invest directly in transport and housing, as well as having greater say over skills with local businesses for the first time controlling the funding of apprenticeships. They will also lead on delivering the work programme with city – and county – regions able to use their local knowledge to decide which providers to use to get people back to work. And towns and cities will be given clear incentives too.
“With power of this sort comes responsibility. These changes will only bring new jobs, greater prosperity, if the towns and cities are willing to put the private sector at the heart of decision making.”