By Jonathan Davies

Greater devolution to Britain’s cities could boost the UK economy by £79 billion a year by 2030, according to a new report.

The RSA City Growth Commission, which conducted the study, said more decision making powers on tax and spending would allow the cities to grow much quicker.

If the recommendations were implemented, the RSA said it would equate to boosting productivity for the whole of the UK by 5%, or bringing GDP to each individual city level with the UK average.

“Our centralised political economy is not ‘fit for purpose’,” it said.

“There needs to be a radical reshaping of the UK’s political economy, with our metros given sufficient decision-making powers and financial flexibilities in order to become financially self-sustainable.”

ManSheffLeedsPool

The report also called for greater investment in infrastructure in the North West in the region is describes as “ManSheffLeedsPool” (Hopefully I won’t have to explain what that means!).

It calls for greater transport links between the cities and even suggests a system similar to the London Underground, with a Oyster Card-style payment system for transport between each city.

“In a world in which cities are the new drivers of growth, decentralising our political economy will boost GDP and enable our major metros to achieve their social and economic potential,” said Ben Lucas, chair of public services, RSA and city growth commissioner.

The RSA is calling for draft legislation by 2015.

John Allan, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said:

“The RSA City Growth Commission is right to highlight broadband access as something holding back many regional centres. This is an issue the FSB has been doing a lot of work to highlight how small firms are being held back by poor broadband. Government must get the message that the UK needs much more ambitious digital infrastructure plans.

“Our members are also very clear that regional growth depends on a better connected transport network, that makes East/West transport connectivity as much of a priority as North/South. It is a crucial element to rebalancing the national economy so areas outside London and the South East are able to prosper.”

Jeremy Blackburn, Head of Policy & Parliamentary Affairs at the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (Rics), said:

“The Cities Growth Commission has set out a panoramic vision for the future of our largest cities. These proposals will define the debate over devolution of powers and funding in England during the next parliament.

“How these proposals result in actual economic growth will to a large part depend on how cities, LEPs, enterprise zones and funding streams are wired together.”

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