BUSINESS must be given a greater role in plans for devolution in England if the process is to result in genuine localism and a boost to private sector growth, investment and job creation, according to EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation.
Andy Tuscher, Yorkshire and Humber Region Director at EEF, said: “Recent moves have confused the region’s economic geography even more. There is uncertainty and fragmentation, particularly within the Humber, which looks likely to be split four ways politically. Businesses in Hull and elsewhere have expressed their frustration about this.
“The Government has already announced a devolution deal with Sheffield focussed on transport and economic development, which is the right place to start. Businesses want local authorities to make a down payment on infrastructure before they can support further devolution across the region.”
Mr Tuscher said businesses must be involved in policy decisions at the local level as some mayoral combined authorities look set to be given the power to raise taxes on business property without the agreement of local businesses.
“This role is set to become even more critical in light of the Chancellor’s recent announcement that local authorities will be given the right to set their local business rates,” he said.
In a paper published today, ahead of a key debate on the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill this week, EEF outlines how the relationship between business and local authorities is currently weak whilst the speed of the move towards devolving power in England has left the business voice behind.
It raises concerns about smaller companies who have historically been the most disengaged, but who potentially have the most to gain from the new process. EEF called for amendments to provide for independent, business-led, overview and scrutiny of combined authorities.