Labour warns ‘the devil will be in the detail’ over plans to devolve powers

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LABOUR says it will not automatically oppose the Government’s plans to devolve key powers to English cities but warned that “the devil will be in the detail” of the new agreements being forged.

Speaking at yesterday’s IPPR North conference in Leeds, Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna said English cities have been “burdened” by the economic mistakes made by the Coalition since it came to power.

But Mr Umunna, seen as a rising star of the Labour Party, said he would welcome more powers being devolved down to cities, allowing them to draw down extra resources and increase strategic control over their affairs.

“We’re not going to oppose the things we’ve heard announced this morning just for the sake of it,” he said. “But we need to look at the detail – the devil really is in the detail in this case.”

Sheffield MP David Blunkett described the announcement as a “classic self-delusion” on the part of the Government, with cities such as Sheffield far more concerned at having £220m cut from its £740m spending budget.

“The reality is devolved pain,” he said. “Cities across the country are forced to take impossible decisions for which they and not central Government get the blame.”