COMMONS

Fiscal devolution evidence taken in Manchester

10 February 2014

On Monday 10 February the Communities and Local Government Committee will visit Manchester as part of its inquiry into fiscal devolution for cities and city regions

While in Manchester the Committee will hold an oral evidence session where it will hear from representatives of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Sunderland City Council, Staffordshire County Council and Leeds City Council.

Commenting on the visit, Clive Betts MP said

"For an inquiry looking at the case for granting additional powers to English cities, not just London, it is perhaps even more important than usual to visit an area outside the capital.

The Core Cities, England’s eight largest regional cities, suggest that if given greater powers to raise and spend money locally, they can become the beating heart of a thriving national economy.  Monday’s visit will allow the Committee to question representatives from two of them – Leeds and Manchester – about this claim.

It will also provide an opportunity to explore an issue that must be worked out before any devolution can take place – how devolved areas are defined.  Staffordshire County Council, for example, has said that focusing solely on cities risks relegating surrounding areas to ‘some sort of hinterland status’."

He continued

"And in written evidence to us Sunderland City Council has claimed that without fiscal devolution it risks being squeezed between an increasingly independent Scotland and prosperous South East.  Monday’s evidence session will allow us to explore this issue further.

The visit will also allow us to see if there are lessons to be learned from the experience of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority about how councils in devolved areas can work together constructively to govern a devolved city region. 

The suggested benefits of fiscal devolution – increased prosperity, more jobs, improved housing – are enticing.  But there remain issues to be worked out, especially the detail.  How will the people given these powers be held to account? How do we ensure that low-growth areas don’t lose out? Monday’s visit to Manchester will help us in our search for answers to these questions and more."

Witnesses

In the Scrutiny Room, Manchester Town Hall Extension, the Committee will take evidence from:

At 13.30

  • Cllr Philip Atkins, Staffordshire County Council (written submission 27)
    Cllr Paul Watson, Sunderland City Council (written submission 22)
    Cllr James Lewis, Leeds City Council (written submission 25)

At 14.30 [approx]

  • Sir Richard Leese, Greater Manchester Combined Authority
  • Lord Smith of Leigh, Greater Manchester Combined Authority
  • Cllr Sue Derbyshire, Greater Manchester Combined Authority (written submission 6)

The session will be open to the public, however seating will be limited to a first come basis. See Manchester Town Hall visiting information.

The session will not be broadcast live, however a transcript and audio recording will be placed on the Committee’s website by the end of following day.

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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