The freedom to set new taxes, borrow and spend money free from Whitehall constraints should be given to areas such as West and South Yorkshire if they are to realise their economic potential, according to a new report.
A commission led by leading economist Jim O’Neill has today recommended a radical overhaul of the financial powers available to 15 so-called ‘metro’ areas centred on the UK’s biggest cities including Leeds and Sheffield.
As the latest polling suggested the ‘Yes’ campaign is now in the lead with 10 days to go before the Scottish independence vote, Mr O’Neill said what happens to the economies of those 15 areas in the coming years will be “more important for UK economic growth than what happens in the rest of Scotland combined”.
“Enabling the leaders of these major urban areas to decide what is right for them, and with it, for them to carry the responsibility for those decisions is crucial,” he said.
The City Growth Commission, established by the RSA thinktank, is proposing a wholesale shift away from the current situation where central government holds the whip hand when it comes to raising money and deciding how it should be spent.
It argues that big urban areas should have more scope to spend money from Government as they see fit as well as raise their own taxes and overhaul existing ones such as council tax.
Amid reports of infighting in the ‘No’ campaign in Scotland, Labour leader Ed Miliband will today urge workers to listen to trade unions who are supporting the Union remaining intact.