Almost half of England's job increases come from London and the South East as calls for devolution grow

Boris Johnson's government has been urged to hand more powers to elected local leaders to bridge the regional divide after new figures showed almost half of England's job increases in the last decade were in London or the South East.

Think-tank IPPR North said the Government must deliver a devolution Parliament and implement a four-year programme that "puts power and resources into towns, cities and regions" across the country.

Greater powers should be given to mayors and local leaders and areas that already have devolution such as Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and London should be permitted to take on more, the research suggests.

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Yorkshire is yet to get a fully-implemented devolution deal

The Local Government Association also urged the Government to publish its promised devolution white paper "as soon as possible".

Yorkshire has yet to agree a fully-implemented devolution deal, though Minister Simon Clarke will be meeting West Yorkshire leaders next week to try and get a deal agreed in time for March's Budget.

England has the worst regional inequalities in the developed world with 47 per cent of the increase in jobs in the last 10 years occurring in London and the South East, despite the area being home to just a third of England's population, the research shows.

This Parliament must be the "devolution Parliament" to reduce divides both between England's regions and between the people living within them, IPPR North said.

The think-tank's proposals to bridge the gaps include giving additional power to mayors and local leaders over issues such as schools commissioning, job centres and some taxes and setting up a "new geography of regional collaboration" with four regions in the North, the Midlands, South East and South West led by council leaders and mayors.

Holding a "convention on devolution in England" to "set the direction of travel and empower citizens" is also recommended.

The report suggests that Germany, which spends twice as much locally or regionally on supporting their economies as a percentage of GDP, is "better placed to support economic prosperity".

Senior Research Fellow at IPPR North, Luke Raikes, said: "For too long, Westminster has hoarded power and held back prosperity in all of England's regions, including London.

"Levelling up should mean opening the door for all of England to benefit from devolution, while also letting areas that have devolution take on more.

"This Parliament must be the Devolution Parliament. It is time to overturn the centralisation that's let towns, cities and regions fall into decline. The Government must give places the power and resources they need, to adapt to the decades of change that lie ahead."

Jon Trickett, Labour’s Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office and MP for Hemsworth, said: “This report provides even more definitive evidence that our over-centralised political system has failed the North of England, especially Yorkshire

“As I have long argued, Yorkshire has been held back by politicians in Westminster who simply do not understand the unique needs of our area.

“The path to regenerating Yorkshire’s economy, strengthening our many communities and providing opportunity to the millions that live here is through devolution. There is no way around it.

“It’s time for real power and real resources to be devolved to Yorkshire and placed in the hands of local people.”

Responding to the report, Sir Richard Leese, chair of the Local Government Association's City Regions Board, said: "There is clear and significant evidence that the country gets better value for money when decisions over investment and how to run local services are taken closer to communities and businesses.

"As this report shows, with the right powers and funding, devolution can lay the foundations for a more inclusive and prosperous economy across the whole of England.

"Democratically-elected councils are best placed to support the Government in seizing the opportunities for growth in the years ahead. They also make a huge difference to their communities by building desperately-needed new homes, creating jobs and providing care for older and disabled people.

"We urge the Government to publish its promised Devolution White Paper as soon as possible, and to reignite the process of handing councils the freedom and resources they need to get on and deliver for their communities."

A Government spokesman said: "The Government has been absolutely clear that it will unleash the potential of the whole country and deliver opportunity across the UK

"The number of people in work across the north has increased by over 600,000 since 2010 with employment levels growing and unemployment falling in every region.

"Proposals for a new era of devolution will be at the heart of our commitment to level up all regions across England and will be brought forward in the coming months.

"This is on top of delivering dramatic improvements to local transport and proceeding with HS2 which will shift the centre of gravity away from the capital, transform connectivity between our towns and cities, and close the opportunity gap."