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Boris Johnson: Give councils more control through devolution

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Boris Johnson has called on the government to “give back control” to local authorities through greater fiscal devolution.

The former foreign secretary, who campaigned for Britain to leave the European Union under the slogan “take back control”, used his speech at a fringe meeting of the Conservative party conference to insist that Whitehall “ought” to hand over more money to councils that are “feeling the squeeze”.

In a speech widely seen as setting out his credentials as an alternative prime minister to Theresa May, Mr Johnson said the party should “give good councils the ability to retain stamp duty, council tax, business rates, and the annual tax on enveloped dwellings [properties valued at more than £500,000 which are owned or part-owned by a company or a pooled investment]”, because it would inspire them to “go for growth in their neighbourhoods”.

He added: “Of course, you need to make sure the councils didn’t recklessly hike the business rates and you could do that; you would need an equalisation formula, because the yields are so different across the country.”

The Uxbridge and South Ruislip MP then argued that the Conservatives “ought to be devolving that power, giving back control”, adding that devolution is “not only Tory in principle - it is a way to help councils”.

“Fiscal devolution is not only Tory in principle. It is a way to help councils that are really feeling the squeeze – with the rising cost of services for the elderly. And at the same time it is the way to build the homes our children and grandchildren are going to need,” he added.

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