Mayors to be given the keys to Labour's key economic pledge

Labour is set to “give the keys” to its biggest economic pledge to metro mayors as it announces mandatory plans for combined authorities to grow their economies.

Today the party will announce further details of its devolution policy which include statutory duty on existing authorities to set out plans to grow the economy.

These will feed into Labour’s national mission to secure the highest sustained growth in the G7.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The party will also ask local areas not covered by a devolution deal to join together into a combined or county authority in order to receive new powers.

Deputy Labour Party leader Angela Rayner during her meeting with Labour mayors and mayoral candidates in Birmingham.Deputy Labour Party leader Angela Rayner during her meeting with Labour mayors and mayoral candidates in Birmingham.
Deputy Labour Party leader Angela Rayner during her meeting with Labour mayors and mayoral candidates in Birmingham.

These powers over transport, skills, housing, planning, employment support and energy will also come alongside long-term funding settlements for authorities able to show they can effectively manage public money.

West and South Yorkshire have existing mayoralties which are set to be contested in May’s local elections, alongside North Yorkshire, which will elect its first mayor.

The Hull and East Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority is expected to be contested in next year’s elections.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, Angela Rayner, Labour’s shadow levelling up secretary, said that the transfer of powers would mean central government will help guide local leaders rather than enforce how their economies should be run.

“It’s like giving them a racing car, giving them the keys but having an expert passenger who can say “this is how we can help you do it” rather than someone nagging you from behind saying “this is how you’re meant to do it”,” she said.

This builds on the party's previous commitment to build on “economic clusters” such as health and financial technology in West Yorkshire and advanced manufacturing around Sheffield.

It is expected that powers will be devolved from central government in order to unblock local issues which are a barrier to growing these sectors.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Ms Rayner said that skills shortages will be filled through Technical Excellence Colleges, where local leaders and businesses are able to identify which skills employers need before funding the courses to be filled locally.

She added that this would allow for more people to stay and work in their local area, rather than moving away from their family in order to find well-paid quality jobs.

New powers over housing, with mandatory local plans for housing, would see mayors take a leading role in planning, making sure that there is a “first dibs” approach for local people who may be priced out of their area, the Labour frontbencher said.

Later today Sir Keir Starmer will launch Labour’s local election campaign, promising a “full-fat” approach to devolution.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Sir Keir will tell those in attendance: “I was hoping we’d be launching a different election campaign here today. But unfortunately the Prime Minister has bottled it.

“He wants one last drawn-out summer with his beloved helicopter. And so, we’re going to have to use these local elections to send him another message and show his party – once again – that their time is up.

“The dithering must stop, the date must be set, because Britain wants change, and it’s time for change with Labour.”

It comes as Oliver Coppard, the Mayor of South Yorkshire is understood to have written to the Home Secretary, James Cleverly, expressing concern over the agreed transfer of policing powers from the region’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC).

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

This week the Court of Appeal rejected a Home Office appeal over a ruling that stopped the same powers being transferred to Andy Street, the West Midlands Mayor, following a successful legal challenge by the region’s current PCC.

A judge ruled that the Home Office had not sufficiently consulted when going through the process.

The Home Office was contacted for comment.