Cities Minister Greg Clark announced on 23rd Jan that more cities in England will now be offered the opportunity to agree a bespoke deal with Government to unlock their potential to drive economic growth.
The Government is freeing-up cities from the control of Whitehall to unlock their potential as “engines of growth” through a series of ‘city deals’ from the spring, giving them the powers they need to attract private sector investment, create new jobs, and rebalance the economy.
In return, cities have been informed that they must guarantee that they can provide strong and accountable leadership, improve efficiency and outcomes, and be innovative in their approach.
Negotiations on the first wave of deals have already started with England’s eight largest cities outside of London: Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield.
Greg Clark announced he was extending the offer of a bespoke city deal to more of England’s cities, beyond the main ones, and invited them to start considering their proposals.
An initial menu of possible transformative powers, including greater freedoms to invest in growth, and new ways for cities to boost jobs and apprenticeships, were set out in Unlocking Growth in Cities, published in December, which can be found here on the Communities and Local Government website.
Greg Clark said:
“The battle for economic growth – for Britain’s future, will be won or lost in our cities. Right now our cities face serious challenges, but what isn’t in doubt is their huge potential to drive economic growth. The key to unlocking that potential is a new deal for cities. Giving cities the powers, control over resources, and funding they need to fire on all cylinders and attract the private sector investment needed to rebalance the economy. But this revival will depend on all of Britain’s cities, not just the few. That’s why today I am inviting more cities to consider the vision they have for their community and the deal they need to make it happen.
“We are turning the established order on its head and cities must come to Whitehall not as supplicants, as in the past, but as equal participants in an open and constructive deal making process.”
Councils have been informed that they will need to make a clear case for new powers, backed with evidence and a strong economic rationale. Where the state wants to retain control, the burden will be on central Government to explain why it is necessary.
City deals are the next step in Government’s plans to grow local economies. Local Enterprise Partnerships are already in place, attempting to encourage local leaders to think and work together in ways that reflect their true economic geography. The Regional Growth Fund and Enterprise Zones have been devised to support the idea that local economies should be in control of encouraging entrepreneurs and private investment.
With declining growth in GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of 0.2% in the last quarter of 2011, ministers will be hoping that these measures can spark some extra life into Britain’s cities; helping to avoid a second recession that will technically be underway should the UK’s next quarter be negative.
As part of the wider policy to unlock growth in cities, the Coalition government has been offering the communities of the 12 largest cities outside London the opportunity to appoint a mayor. Read more on this, and whether it will affect you, by clicking here.