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‘Nothing should be ruled out’ as Khan reconvenes devo commission

‘Nothing should be ruled out’ in a new set of proposals designed to give London greater devolved powers following the EU referendum, the capital’s mayor has said.

Sadiq Khan has commissioned Professor Tony Travers from the London School of Economics to reconvene the London Finance Commission – a group of political and business leaders which outlined the first set of devolution proposals for the capital in 2013.

Speaking at The Times CEO Summit in the aftermath of the referendum, Khan stated that the government should “move fast” on devolution in order to safeguard the capital’s prosperity.

Following his decision to reconvene the commission, he said: “London needs a stronger voice so that we can protect jobs and growth from the economic uncertainty ahead.

“It is vital that we have greater control over how the capital is run – so we have more control over the things we need to improve our city such as skills training, housing, business rates and the tools to tackle air quality, health and crime.

“I look forward to the new recommendations of the London Finance Commission. Nothing should be ruled out and I expect government to give us the tools to ensure London continues to prosper for decades to come.”

In 2013, the London Finance Commission proposed devolving council tax, stamp duty land tax and business rates to London.

London Councils agreed recently to seek devolution of council tax to offset variations in business rates across the capital.

The commission’s new proposals, which are expected to provide a more comprehensive and wide-ranging set of devolution measures, will be presented to ministers.

Professor Travers said: “More than ever before Londoners need their city's government to be agile and to have the power to use taxation generated locally to promote economic growth.

“London would not take more of the nation's resources, but use the existing tax and spending better. The mayor and the boroughs know better than Whitehall how to run responsive and effective public services. Devolution would be good for London and would take pressure off the UK government at a time when it needs all its capacity to make Brexit work as well as possible.”

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Sean G   01/08/2016 at 12:11

While London should be able to take measures to protect its success, it is also important to bear in mind that London isn't an island. Its cultural appeal and concentration of jobs and careers pulls talent away from the regions, arguably undermining a more equal growth across the country. It isn't all about how London contributes through taxation to the UK's economy. Towns and cities across the country need the kind of high-value jobs that London is increasingly harboring, especially where traditional industries are shrinking. If there's a lesson from the Brexit vote it is this 'Capital bias' doesn't resonate well with those outside London. There's a need for balance, to share around government and private sector investment in regions - not just in a 'Northern Powerhouse' but also in under-developed areas of the southwest, Wales and other places.

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