Labour plans ‘biggest devolution of economic power and funding for generations’

Ed Balls: He wants to put £30 billion worth of infrastructure funding into the hands of local government.

Ed Balls: He wants to put £30 billion worth of infrastructure funding into the hands of local government.

Today’s most interesting election announcement comes from Labour, which is promising to deliver “the biggest devolution of economic power and funding to England’s city and county regions for generations”.

Plans to devolve £30 billion of funding over five years – including funding for housing, transport, business support, employment and adult skills – will be at the heart of the next Labour government’s Spending Review, if elected in May.

A Labour Treasury will allow city and county regions which come together in combined authorities to keep 100 per cent of extra business rates revenue generated by additional growth. They will then be able to invest this to support further business growth in their regions.

All areas will be able to access these freedoms and areas which choose not to have an elected Mayor will not get a second-class deal.

It’s a clear attack on George Osborne’s plan for a “northern powerhouse” – Labour is asking, why just concentrate on ‘The North’ when so many other areas outside London need help due to Tory economic mismanagement?

It is to be hoped that Labour has not forgotten its support base in this business-friendly frenzy. Will this funding be used to promote the Living Wage, for example? Will it be used to create the new work demanded by its jobs guarantee – and will they be permanent, well-paying careers?

“Local areas will be in the driving seat on key decisions affecting their local economies – with new powers over back-to-work schemes, to drive house building, and to integrate, invest in and plan transport infrastructure,” said shadow chancellor Ed Balls, ahead of today’s announcement. It seems Labour has picked up a trick from the Tories – if this scheme fails anywhere, they will be able to blame it on local government. Hmm.

“And we will also let city and county regions keep all the additional business rates revenue generated by growth… We will not only back our great cities, but our towns and county regions too. Not just urban areas, but also rural areas.”

So there is much to recommend this plan – if a Labour government in Westminster can co-ordinate successfully with local authorities, of all colours, in the regions.

Or is this building castles in the air?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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  1. Bill Kruse February 2, 2015 at 5:28 pm - Reply

    Will I still live in Surrey after this, I wonder, or will I find myself, say, in EU Administrative Area Number X?

  2. Jim Round February 2, 2015 at 7:03 pm - Reply

    It is a well used answer “coynciks are responsible for how they allocate their funds.
    Think a along the lines of if yo were given 50p to spend in an “everythings a pound” store.
    The other thing to think about is that a lot of people don’t trust their local authority to spend money wisely.
    This is something that needs sorting.

    • Jim Round February 3, 2015 at 1:02 am - Reply

      coynciks???? if yo????
      Councils and if you!!!

      • Mike Sivier February 3, 2015 at 1:38 am - Reply

        I couldn’t make head or tail of it so I left it.

  3. Joan Edington February 2, 2015 at 8:40 pm - Reply

    I wonder if he’ll be funding it from donations made by people suckered by the fake petition on the Labour Party website against the bedroom tax. lol.

    • Mike Sivier February 2, 2015 at 9:10 pm - Reply

      What fake petition?

      • Joan Edington February 3, 2015 at 12:05 pm - Reply

        The one at
        The “just signed” names are false since if you refresh the page the same old names keep appearing at absolute regular intervals. When the petition first appeared, looking at the HTML source code, there was a table of “so and so just signed” that was obviously looped round. They know they have been twigged and it is done a little more subtly now but still fake. As other people have said, ostensibly it’s gathering signatures representing opposition to the bedroom tax, but in fact its only purpose is to harvest email addresses so that Labour can then bombard unwitting recipients with dodgy solicitations for cash. If you click the button to add your name you’ll may be asked for a donation no fewer than three times, as well as begging you to spam your friends on social media and go and knock on people’s doors.

        • Mike Sivier February 3, 2015 at 12:46 pm - Reply

          I see what you mean about the “just signed” names. Have you asked for an explanation?
          Regarding the email-harvesting – that is standard practice, I think.
          Are you saying none of the other parties do the same?

          • Joan Edington February 3, 2015 at 3:33 pm

            No Mike. Just that they tend to be more obvious/honest? I haven’t asked for an explanation myself but, after I’d “signed” myself, never seeing my name come up and not going onto the following screens, I received an email from One Nation Politics asking if I wanted to know how to donate or volunteer. It was just the icing on the cake to cheer me up after the antics of Dim Jim and The Midnight Vowboy. If they really are serious about getting votes back in Scotland Labour need to get their act together, and I don’t mean a comedy one.

          • Mike Sivier February 3, 2015 at 4:00 pm

            “Dim Jim and The Midnight Vowboy”? Is Scottish Nationalism now reduced to name-calling (and misspelling – see my dialogue with Mark Potter-Irwin elsewhere)?
            It seems to me that Labour may be preserving signatories’ anonymity – although why this should be necessary on a public petition certainly escapes me.

          • Joan Edington February 3, 2015 at 6:35 pm

            Call it name-calling if you can’t take a joke. When people, especially Murphy, are so hilarious it’s hard not to assign nick-names. Salmond and Sturgeon were called a few unsavoury things during the referendum, both by Scots and English people, but they didn’t cry about it. Nats, as you scornfully call SNP voters, are often asked to provide evidence of their claims when being branded as liars. At least there is absolute evidence of Labour lies recently, which is why they are not regaining lost ground up here, rather the opposite. Margaret Curran tweeted that she voted against fracking (tweet now removed but numerous copies abound) when she was an aye for each vote (check Hansard). Murphy constantly talking about “Scottish Labour” granting extra benefits in Scotland when there is no such party. Only Milliband, in the case of his coming to power, could grant such things. He also states that he is against Trident which, anyone who has known this Blairite war-monger’s voting record for any length of time knows is utter tosh. Labour in Scotland, who do NOT have a separate constitution to rUK, are coming out with anything that they think Record readers will believe. It is a great pity that your party up here have sunk to the depths they have. I was one of those Labour supporters who, when we got our bit of devolution in 1979, assumed that the Scottish leadership would stand up to the Westminster party, on those matters in Scotland’s interests, and be the party I remembered pre-Blair. I was sadly disillusioned, as were the many who felt obliged to move to the SNP for any hope of our interests being considered relevant.

          • Mike Sivier February 3, 2015 at 6:54 pm

            Oh, it was a joke, was it? The first refuge of the bully who’s been found out.
            Yes, Nats are often asked to provide evidence of their claims while being branded liars. It’s after they fail to come up with the goods that the brand sticks.
            Your comment about there being no such party as “Scottish Labour” is nit-picking at its worst. If you carry on like that, you don’t need me to make you look silly.
            According to TheyWorkForYou, Jim Murphy has voted in favour of replacing Trident – albeit with a different nuclear weapons system. Whether that’s because it was the only option on offer or because he genuinely supports nuclear, the site doesn’t say. It is simply clear that he’s against Trident.
            Why should Labour in Scotland be separate from the UK’s national Labour Party? We’re all part of one big nation, you know.
            It’s funny that you suggest moving to the SNP is done for any hope of your interests being considered relevant, when one of your colleagues has already stated that it doesn’t matter what goes on north of the border – it won’t have any influence on the outcome of the general election. Where’s your relevance, then?
            Doesn’t that indicate that if Labour is planning on providing more powers for Scotland, Labour has the interests of the Scottish people at heart?
            You can’t have it both ways, you see.

          • Joan Edington February 4, 2015 at 12:21 pm

            “Your comment about there being no such party as “Scottish Labour” is nit-picking at its worst”.
            “Why should Labour in Scotland be separate from the UK’s national Labour Party? We’re all part of one big nation, you know”.
            These comments seem to contradict themselves rather.
            The 2nd comment was exactly my point. Murphy keeps on insisting that Scottish Labour is separate when it is anything but under the current constitution. He is often locally branding many SNP policies as his own, although there is no way he would be allowed to follow most of them through since they are against THE Labour Party policies.
            By the way, what is quoted in TheyWorkForYou doesn’t exactly match what Murphy et al are actually saying to the public up here.
            You are right that how Scotland votes has rarely (1 definite and 1 possible time I believe) had any effect on the final resident of No 10 which is why I wonder at them still using the old line “Vote Labour to keep the Tories out”. I have tried that many times to no avail, especially in my own constituency which has never had a chance of a Labour MP. We are simply fighting to stop it becoming a 2nd Tory seat in Scotland, unfortunately, now that Michael Moore has been twigged.
            If the Labour Party’s voting strategy for candidates had been more like the SNP’s, we might have had a Labour leader up here worth calling Labour and things might have been very different. However, with their vote weighting system, the already established parliamentary members had much more influence than lay members or union votes.
            As for Labour’s plans to devolve more powers to Scotland, we’ll just have to wait and see on that one but I wouldn’t bet on it.

          • Mike Sivier February 4, 2015 at 4:37 pm

            Re: ‘Scottish Labour’ – my comments don’t contradict each other at all. Welsh Labour is part of the UK national Labour Party; why can’t Scottish Labour enjoy the same status? The party – in the devolved UK countries – will have policies relevant to the situation in those countries.
            TheyWorkForYou tracks MPs’ voting record.
            As for Labour’s plans – I think they’re being tarred with the Tory/Lib Dem brush. The Coalition did so many things without any kind of mandate from the public, and then Lynton Crosby came along and said Labour’s just the same as the Coalition parties – and for some bizarre reason, people believed him. Or said they did, which amounts to the same thing.

          • Joan Edington February 4, 2015 at 6:02 pm

            You’re certainly right about Lynton Crosby. As evil as they get. We’ve got our own similar one in the person of John McTernan although he’s not as effective since he’s rather more outspoken to the general public where Crosby lurks in the background spreading his propaganda, never heard of by many voters I imagine.

            I do know that TheyWorkForYou tracks voting records. These records are scanned by a good number of people here and compared with what is said by some of the MPs on the ground, on Twitter and in the MSM (who probably never do look it up). The discrepancies are quite a revelation.

            I wish that Scottish Labour would accept the same status as Welsh Labour. It is the fact that Murphy keeps claiming that Scotland has its own party constitution that I complain about. He even says that he is going to change it and says he is standing in May for the Scottish Labour Party. Questions to the Electoral Commission received the reply that there was no such party registered and any candidate standing, on the basis of a claim that the Scottish “accounting unit” of The Labour Party makes its own policy, won’t just be lying to voters, they’ll actually be breaking the law.

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