Britain has emerged from recession – but only just – and the recovery will be slow and uneven.
The next Government needs urban policies which address the different needs of the UK’s biggest cities (like Greater London and the City Regions of Manchester, Birmingham, and Leeds), our struggling cities (e.g. Doncaster, Stoke and Barnsley) and buoyant cities (including Cambridge, Reading, Milton Keynes and Brighton).
We’ve been gathering your feedback since we launched our initial manifesto ideas in the autumn. Here we set out our key policy recommendations for the next Government. We want to know what you think – and what your alternative ideas might be.
Cities need to be given more freedom over their economic future, and the financial flexibility to make their own decisions. More financial freedom would give cities the incentives to create the conditions for businesses to grow and create jobs, and to improve public spending efficiency. Relocalising the business rate should be the first step.
Elected Metro Mayors for Britain’s major cities
Britain’s biggest cities should be leading the recovery – but they don’t have enough powers over their own economies to do so. The three biggest City Regions outside London – Greater Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds – should be able to elect ‘Metro Mayors’ with real tax-and-spend powers. Metro Mayors would energise voters, be highly visible and accountable, and would have a direct personal mandate to take tough decisions on local tax and spending, and on infrastructure.
Financial incentives for growth in buoyant cities
Some of our most dynamic cities don’t have enough incentives to pursue strong growth. Cities which are economically strong would be encouraged to grow by having control over the business rate. They should be financially incentivised to build the houses that growing labour markets demand.
A new approach for cities in decline
Cities like Doncaster, Stoke, Hull, Hastings and Burnley have been in long-term decline for many years, and have fallen further behind in the recession. The next Government should make struggling cities a policy priority. An Urban Taskforce should be established to take a fresh look at the medium-term economic prospects for cities struggling to recover from industrial decline, and to recommend a new approach to urban regeneration.