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Government announces 20 new city deals

20 more areas have struck ‘city deals’ with the Government. The announcement follows eight deals with larger cities last year.

The cities will negotiate to take on extra autonomy over how to spend budgets in training, skills and road building, amongst other areas. The responsibility should help boost economic growth outside of London, the Government suggests.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said that the UK could gain as much as £41bn a year if other cities could close an “output gap” with the capital.

The new areas will be: the Black Country; Bournemouth and Poole; Brighton and Hove; Greater Cambridge; Coventry and Warwickshire; Hull and Humber; Ipswich; Leicester and Leicestershire; Milton Keynes and the southeast Midlands; Greater Norwich; Oxford and Oxfordshire; Reading and Central Berkshire; Plymouth; Preston; Southampton and Portsmouth; Southend and Thames Gateway South Essex; Stoke and Staffordshire; Sunderland and the northeast; Swindon and Wiltshire; and Tees Valley.

Clegg said: “Letting go of power and money doesn’t come naturally to Whitehall. Over time, the economic importance of other parts of the country has been devastatingly downplayed, as the economic elite have narrowed the debate towards a London-centric view.

“Rather than let our industries and communities wither, we need to free up cities outside of London that have their own unique selling points. It is in everyone’s interests – not least London’s itself – if that potential is now tapped. There can, and must, be more than one jewel in our crown.”

Cllr Peter Box, chairman of the LGA's Economy and Transport Board, said: “The announcement of 20 new city deals is very positive and reflects the Government's increasing recognition that local areas are best placed to drive economic growth. We need to accelerate the pace and scale of devolution and make deals available to all areas that want them.

“The Heseltine Review identified £58bn of Government funding for growth that could be better used if localities made the investment decisions rather than civil servants in Whitehall. There is clearly varying degrees of buy-in from different government departments.

“We hope that the March Budget will carry through the promise of the Autumn Statement by confirming that all of the tools and levers needed to drive local growth will be made available to councils, local businesses and their partners.”

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