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Queen’s Speech promises more metro mayors

The newly-elected Conservative government has promised to increase the number of metro mayors, as part of the Queen’s Speech.

The Queen Speech unveiled a raft of new measures and reiterated several others made by Boris Johnson’s administration before the general election, including a commitment to publish a devolution white paper.

According to the government’s full briefing document, the white paper will include plans for spending and local growth funding.

‘It will provide further information on our plans for full devolution across England, levelling up powers between Mayoral Combined Authorities, increasing the number of mayors and doing more devolution deals,’ the document states.

‘These increased powers and funding will mean more local democratic responsibility and accountability.

‘We want to expand the benefits of devolution across England and put more trust in local people to choose what is best for their communities,’ it adds.

Ministers also confirmed plans to bring forward new and revitalised strategies for the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine, as well as the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

Responding to the Queen’s Speech, Claire Ainsley, executive director at the independent Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: ‘Now the election is over, Boris Johnson must make good on his promise to unleash Britain’s potential.

‘This Queen’s Speech begins a conversation about what is needed to support working families and those parts of our country locked out of economic opportunities. His party now represents areas of our country that have never voted Conservative before and where faith in politics needs to be restored.’

While the interim director of the IPPR North think tank, Arianna Giovannini said: ‘We welcome the commitment to enhancing English devolution. New Mayors and a ‘levelling up’ of powers will help us move beyond England’s over-centralisation and the inequalities that it entrenches.

‘But devolution is still in its early stages in England and needs to go further. We look forward to the promised White Paper which must be brought forward early in the new year.

‘The promised “full devolution” must be inclusive – ensuring that economic growth has a positive impact on people’s lives and is genuinely felt across the North’s communities. It must focus on more than productivity and growth alone, so the North can tackle its social and environmental challenges too. It should devolve meaningful powers to all places across England, including the towns and cities of the North, to ensure that decisions about the North are made locally and bring politics closer.’

Localis chief executive, Jonathan Werran, commented: ‘The passages on English devolution clearly presage a new wave of mayoral leaders to cover the two-thirds of the country which lack this form of strategic governance and integrated leadership.

‘How local leaders adapt to the changes this will bring into play, and the strength of the sticks and carrots on offer from central government to make this a reality will be crucial to determining the speed at which we are able to rebalance the economy in non-metropolitan England – while also making our urban centres punch their own economic weight.

‘Until the White Paper we will have to guess what a new ‘effective’ model for funding the new wave of metro mayors will be or how they are to go about financing a strong local state with the capability to direct local economies.  A fundamental review of business rates is one such step, but surety on how we fund social care will also be vitally necessary.’

Photo Credit – Derwiki (Pixabay)

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