Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street and Britain’s six other regional and city-wide mayors have issued a united call for the Government to significantly increase the pace and scale of devolution.
Meeting for the first time, the Mayors said greater devolution would boost economic growth across the UK and improve public services.
The gathering in London was the first of what is planned to be a series of summits attended by all of England’s regional and city-wide Mayors.
Pic by Greater London Authority
The seven – four Conservative and three Labour - said Britain remained one of the most centralised states in the western world and that devolution was the key to unlocking future growth and improving productivity across the UK.
They called for further devolved control over public services including skills, training and apprenticeship services, as well as real influence over programmes designed to help people get back to work.
The mayors also called for a significant increase in fiscal devolution, with regions given greater control over existing taxes and the revenues they create, rather than having to rely on Government grants.
Andy Street said: “This Government more than any other has pushed the devolution agenda with the creation of combined authorities and Mayor's.
"I believe now is the time for Government go a step further and provide us with the tools to tackle the challenges and seize the opportunities we each face. We are already proving our worth, now let us really kick on with the job."
The summit at City Hall in London was the first time that all of England’s regional and city-wide Mayors had come together.
Andy Street was joined by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Andy Burnham (Greater Manchester), Tim Bowles (West of England), Ben Houchen (Tees Valley), James Palmer (Cambridgeshire and Peterborough) and Steve Rotheram (Liverpool City Region)
They said greater fiscal devolution would give cities the tools and incentives to increase growth and job creation.
Sadiq Khan said: “We may come from different parts of the country and represent different political parties but we all share the same belief – that the best way to secure ongoing prosperity across the country is by giving city regions more control.
“Many of the most dynamic and prosperous cities and regions in other countries have mayors with substantial powers and funding, and it is high time we followed suit.
“There is no doubt that, as regional Mayors, we are the best-placed people to deliver services to meet the specific need of local people – so we are calling on Government to speed up the devolution process and give us more ability to improve peoples’ lives.”
Cities and metropolitan regions are the main engines of economic growth and job creation in the UK - and the seven areas under direct control of England’s regional and city-wide Mayors account for nearly 39 per cent of all British growth (GVA), up from 35 per cent in 1997.