The mayor of Bristol has called for cities to be given greater control over taxes, as well as greater autonomy and financial self-sufficiency.
George Ferguson, who was elected mayor in 2012, said that the ‘devo-max’ measures being proposed to Scotland should also be devolved to cities.
“Cities are this country’s principal drivers of growth and it is vital that we’re given the freedoms we need to maximise this for the benefit of our regions and the national economy.
“That we’re so far behind many of our foreign counterparts in terms of devolving power to cities is a national embarrassment given the demonstrable benefits it brings elsewhere.
“Currently little more than 5% of our total tax take is retained locally, leaving us with the indignity of having to beg for what is due to us from the government of the time.”
Ferguson believes that, as the leader of a UK core city, he would be able to deliver services more efficiently if given more decision-making powers.
He suggested that the best place to start would be to change property taxes so that the revenue goes straight to city authorities, rather than to Westminster.
This idea was also suggested in a recent report by think-tank, ResPublica, which suggested that Manchester should be used as a pilot city for the changes.
Phillip Bond, director of ResPublica, said:
“[Greater Manchester’s] population is bigger than Northern Ireland’s. Its economy is bigger than Wales. And it has a higher growth rate than Scotland.
“These plans outlined in today’s report, will allow it to turn its fortunes around, lifting the population out of the doldrums. This is a blueprint for independence for cities in England.”