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City trio launch finance review

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Three leading city councils have launched an investigation into how councils can become self-funding to feed into ministers’ local government resource review.

The review, kicked off by Westminster, Birmingham and Manchester City Councils, will consider options including raising a local ‘income tax’ or keeping a greater share of business rates.

The councils have appointed property developer Sir Stuart Lipton to chair the three-month review, alongside an expert team including Nick Raynsford (Lab) and director of the Greater London group at the London School of Economics Tony Travers.

The final report will be submitted to the coalition’s review of local government finance which is due in July.

The other members of the commission, which has its first meeting on 4 February, are:

  • Land Securities chief executive, Francis Salway
  • Mayor of London’s policy director for economic development, Anthony Browne
  • Chief Executive at the Centre for Cities, Alexandra Jones
  • Coutts & Co chairman of entrepreneurs, Michael Hayman
  • CIPFA chief executive, Steve Freer  
  • Chief Executive of Commission for the New Economy, Mike Emmerich

Sir Stuart said: “The current system for funding our major cities is unsustainable and our goal is to investigate how it can become more self-sufficient.

“If the UK’s cities are to play a stronger role in promoting economic growth they must be in a position to be genuine local leaders and receive the financial benefits from the investment they make in supporting the local economy. 

“Local authorities are keen to work in new ways to support economic growth but it is fundamental that they have the right tools, freedoms and flexibilities to achieve this.” 

Westminster leader, Colin Barrow (Con), said the council’s aim was to become self-sufficient.

Cllr Barrow added: “The current system does not recognise the contribution that local government plays in supporting growth or allows local authorities to share the benefits of growth. The commissioners are some of the very best and brightest thinkers in their field and we look forward to their findings.”

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