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20.04.17

IPPR: Collaboration between mayors essential to secure more devolution

The six new mayors of England’s newly formed combined authorities must work together across their regions to drive a new wave of devolution, a report released by IPPR North has stated.

In the report, called ‘England’s New Leaders: How Mayors Can Transform Their Cities’, a ‘menu’ of 30 key policies points is set out for the incoming mayors in the new combined authorities, alongside broader points that explain how the new leaders should go about getting further devolution of powers to the regions back on track.

Author of the report Luke Raikes, a senior research fellow at IPPR, argued that there needed to be collaboration across the regions and nationally to push for further devolution and share better practices between authorities.

Raikes also suggested that the government needed to prioritise a package of fiscal devolution amongst a number of other measures to hand more power and responsibility to the new combined authorities.

“The next three years will be vital ones for devolution and democracy in England,” he argued. “The measures outlined in this report demonstrate the impactful and positive steps that mayors can take to transform their cities in their first three-year terms.

“But mayors could be transformative, and they will need more powers if they are to truly deliver for their citizens. In order to do so, they will need more devolution. And in order to get this devolution, they will have to work together.”

As a first step, Raikes recommended that the new mayors meet with London mayor Sadiq Khan to discuss shared objectives and goals going into the future.

“By 2020, the government should strike a new series of devolution deals, prioritising fiscal devolution, and giving mayoral combined authorities across the country the powers to support their industrial strategy and public service reform,” the author added.

The IPPR also recommended specific measures including allowing apprenticeship levy underspend by larger companies to be gathered and co-ordinated by combined authorities to be spent on other career development services, as well as pooling funding from all departments like health and education at a city-region level.

Raikes wrote that the cap on business rate supplement should be removed to broaden its scope to fund improvements to transport, as part of a number of other policies aimed at unlocking new income streams for the mayors.

And more generally, the IPPR researcher pushed for the government to engage with mayoral combined authorities and local government in a more constructive way than it currently does, in particular with regards to the formulation of regional and national industrial strategies and as the UK negotiates its way out of the EU.

The report follows claims that the new combined authorities are at risk of being the same ‘old boys’ club’ as 93% of top leadership positions are likely to be held by white men.

Residents in the six new combined authorities in Liverpool, Greater Manchester, Tees Valley, West of England, West Midlands and Cambridge & Peterborough will go to the poll to vote for their mayor on 4 May.

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