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More powers for cities means more stability and certainty

The Communities and Local Government committee has published a report, calling for MPs to devolve fiscal and spending powers to English cities.

Baroness Jo Valentine, chief executive of business group London First, said the Committee was right to advocate greater financial freedom for major cities in England.

“The UK is one of most centralised democracies in world and we are a long way behind other countries when it comes to devolving power to cities and regions,” she said.

“At the moment, for example, London keeps 7% of the tax raised in the city, while New York keeps 50%,” she said.

“More powers for cities means more stability and certainty as local governments can plan over the long-term, rather than having to rely on the whims of central government.”

Baroness Valentine called on Westminster to consider the findings of the Mayor’s recent London Finance Commission, which recommended that a suite of property taxes, such as council tax, business rates, and capital gains property tax, be devolved to London Government – an arrangement that could also be tailored to other cities and regions.

“Full devolution of all property taxes to London government – swapped pound for pound for existing grant so it’s no new money now – would still leave 88% of all London’s taxes going to straight to the Treasury,” she said. “Only in Britain could this be seen by the Treasury as too radical.”

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