Labour launches local election campaign with pledge to deliver “the biggest devolution in England for 100 years”

Labour will launch its 2015 local election campaign in Leeds today (Tuesday April 7) with a bold devolution pledge to reverse a century of centralisation by giving back an unprecedented £30 billion of funding from Whitehall over five years. This will enable the creation of economic powerhouses in every region, backed by new freedoms.

Shadow Cabinet members Harriet Harman, Hilary Benn, Chris Leslie, Chuka Ummuna and Michael Dugher will sign a covenant with Labour local government leaders to deliver a new devolution deal for England in the first year of a Labour government.

Labour’s better plan for English devolution will give every city and county region more control over their own destiny and the ability to drive economic growth with London-style powers over buses so they can decide routes, set fares and improve services to powers to get houses built.

The Tories’ plan is failing voters. The recovery might be benefiting the City of London, but it hasn’t reached the homes of working people across our country.

Too many decisions are made in Whitehall, and under the Tories, these decisions have meant that the poorest communities have been hit the hardest with the biggest cuts.

Labour has a better plan to ensure communities in every part of the country benefit from the nation’s prosperity. Local authorities, local people and local businesses will come together to assert new powers over training, economic development, housing, back to work schemes and local bus and rail networks.

In remarks to coincide with the launch, Ed Miliband, Labour leader, said:

“Labour will create regional powerhouses in every corner of the country.

“It will bring devolved powers in England closer to those enjoyed by Scotland and Wales.

“Devolution from Whitehall is vital if we are to create the jobs needed for a truly national recovery. We want to give every city and county region in England the potential to take greater control over their destiny.

“Our devolution plans go further than the Tories, who have yet again fallen short on their promises. This is the only way authorities in England will achieve the growth, jobs and prosperity they need.”

Harriet Harman, Labour’s Deputy Leader, will say:

“This election is a choice between the Tories’ failing plan and Labour’s better plan for working people.
“Labour understands that Britain only succeeds when working people succeed and devolving power is key.

“Labour brought devolution to Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and London and today we pledge to continue on this journey to devolve power to England .

“We will reverse a century of centralisation by giving back an unprecedented £30 billion of funding from Whitehall, backed by new powers to create the jobs, skills and opportunities for this generation and the next.”

Labour’s Local Government Pledge

Labour has a better devolution plan which will ensure your community benefits from a new era of prosperity.

We will reverse a century of centralisation by giving back an unprecedented £30 billion of funding from Whitehall.

We believe in creating economic powerhouses, not just in one or two parts of the country, but in every city and county region.

Here’s how:

1. Equip young people and businesses with the skills they need to succeed by handing local people and firms control over funds for training and back-to-work schemes.
2. Back local businesses with new regional banks, providing funding to support enterprise and jobs.
3. Improve local transport, with controls over bus routes and fares, and give regions a say on local bus and rail networks.

4. Build the homes you need where you want them with the first proper housing plan for a generation, and create new powers to ensure developers use their land – or lose it.

5. Ensure more of the wealth created in your community stays in your community, rather than being handed over to Whitehall.

A better plan. A better future.

Ends

Notes to Editors

• Labour’s performance in local elections. Labour is set to strengthen local government presence after significant gains over past five years. We have made a net gain of 2,542 councillors in the four cycles since the last election. We have won 35 authorities in that time. This year’s local elections cover England (outside London) only: 35 city councils, 48 unitary councils and 194 Districts councils. There are mayoral contests in: Bedford, Leicester, Mansfield, Middlesbrough, Torbay.

• Labour’s plan for devolution in England does not depend on the Constitutional Convention. We will immediately move forward on our plans. The Constitutional Convention will examine the changes we need at Westminster to ensure it reflects a Britain with more empowered nations and regions; for example taking forward plans to change how Westminster works by abolishing the House of Lords.

• For all the Tory rhetoric about devolution, and the fanfare about Manchester, the Tories have hit deprived parts of the country with some of the biggest funding cuts. City deals have been limited in their devolution. Promises over powers and funding have also not materialised.

• There have been NO county or shire deals or combined authorities. The County Councils Network (CCN) of twenty seven County Councils and Unitary Authorities have put forward the a blueprint for ‘County Devolution’ following a devolution campaign. This call has not been accepted by the Government. County Councils Network, 26 March, 2015 http://www.countycouncilsnetwork.org.uk/county-devolution/

• London imbalance has to end London and the south east was responsible for 37% of growth in the decade before the crisis. Since 2010 that share has risen to 54%. Cities like Birmingham Manchester and Leeds have brilliant people, companies and talent. Governments of both parties have not done nearly enough to those talented people.

• As a nation we are planning to spend £5,425 per person per year on infrastructure in London, compared with £1,428 in the North West and just £223 per person in the North East (IPPR 2014 report). Growth (GVA per head) since 2010 has been more twice as fast in London (9.7 per cent) than in the North West (3.3 per cent) and Yorkshire and the Humber (4.7 per cent). (Figures up to 2013).

• Whilst London enjoys greater control over the buses and can decide routes, set fares and improve services, the rest of England does not. During this Parliament there has been a 31 per cent drop in bus passenger journeys whilst at the same time London has enjoyed a 30 per cent increase.