City leadership group calls for more regional powers

5 Feb 19

UK cities should be given new powers to improve social mobility and wellbeing post-Brexit, according to umbrella group Key Cities.

Policy changes and greater support to cities could deliver an extra £258bn worth of growth for the UK economy over the next decade, according to a report by the body of 24 UK cities, which work together to achieve more control of their local economy.

Recommendations in the report include allowing cities to implement a tourism tax, supporting moves to introduce zero-carbon public transport and extra funding for mental health initiatives.

The body also called for “Key Cities to be named testbeds for a tourism levy and new sources of funding for culture-focused regeneration of town centres”, as well as “additional support for growing creative business clusters”.

Such moves, the report said, would significantly increase the 24 cities’ collective contribution to the UK economy from an existing £130.5bn a year.

Edinburgh is one of those cities currently considering implementing a tourism tax, which it says could raise £11m a year.

Peter Box, chair of Key Cities, said: “The referendum wasn’t just about Brexit, it was a demand by the millions who live outside the centre of power in London, for a new settlement that gives them the opportunities and living standards denied to too many.

“This unprecedented and detailed move by 24 varied cities across the country is both an offer to work with the government to deliver that new settlement but also a clear demand that we need the tools and the resources to build the better country everyone wants. This should be a no-brainer for a prime minister looking for domestic wins at a time when she is beset by multiple challenges linked to her withdrawal agreement.”

The group also called for the 24 cities to be named as pilot areas for zero-carbon public road transport and the roll out of full fibre broadband and 5G, as well as powers and devolved funding to develop local transport strategies.

It also called for extra funding for new mental health initiatives focused on young people and for access to young people’s mental health services to be made available to people up to 25 years of age, rather than the current 18 years of age.

The Public Accounts Committee recently warned that the NHS’s mental health provision must improve.

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