Ministers will be able to devolve new powers over economic development, transport and housing policy to cities following amendments to the Localism Bill, ministers have announced.
As revealed by LGC, an amendment proposed by the Core Cities Group to allow cities to bid for greater autonomy over a raft of areas if they can prove it will drive economic growth in their areas, has been backed by the government.
Calls for the devolution deal, first floated by the Core Cities, which represents England’s eight largest city economies outside London, gathered pace after gaining cross party backing in the House of Lords.
A series of amendments to the bill were tabled by Lord McKenzie (Lab), Lord Shipley (Lib Dem) and junior communities minister Baroness Hanham (Con).
If the Core Cities are given greater freedoms, they will be able to deliver an extra one million jobs and £44bn to the economy in the next decade across their local enterprise partnership areas, according to independent forecasts cited by ministers.
Cities minister Greg Clark said: “We are determined to see UK cities given greater control over their economic destiny, allowing them to compete on the global stage.
“In the future UK cities will be able to bid for freedom to set their own distinctive policies. When they come up with innovative proposals for doing things differently, we will devolve the powers cities need to drive private sector growth and create jobs.”
Core Cities director, Chris Murray, said: “Core Cities very much welcome the government’s acceptance of this amendment, which has achieved good cross-party support.
“The performance of our biggest cities is critical to the national economy, and we know that there is a strong relationship between the levels of decentralisation cities have in other countries and how competitive they are.
“At a challenging economic moment, we need to set our cities free to really deliver, and this change in the law will allow that to happen.”