Influential group of urban authorities call for devolution to end 'hand-outs from Whitehall'

  • By Gemma Kappala-R...

Councils from the UK’s major cities and city regions have joined forces to call for radical devolution from Whitehall to enable them to ‘level up’ growth across the whole of the UK. 

The capital and other big cities and towns across the UK are all part of linked economic networks, particularly across city regions. The upcoming Budget must do more to recognise and leverage those connections, giving back control to local people, ending the culture of Whitehall hand-outs.

Urban authorities from Core Cities UK and London Councils all agree devolution has to come with a fair funding settlement for the whole of the UK. Local government has borne the brunt of austerity over the past decade, with core funding reduced by almost two thirds between 2010 and 2020. Although he recent local government finance settlement was the most generous in years, council budgets in urban areas are still 25% lower than in 2010/11.

Business rates are set by central government and are in urgent need of reform, as is council tax. Yet even with these changes, the United Kingdom will remain one of the most centralised countries in the world and these councils have evidence that this is hampering growth and productivity. 

In their submissions to the Treasury ahead of the Budget, Core Cities UK and London Councils are calling for the Government to deliver real fiscal devolution to enable councils to raise their own funds and be more accountable to their communities for the money they spend. This includes reforming business rates and council tax as well as looking at options such as tourist taxes which are common in most other democracies.

Together Core Cities UK and London Councils represent Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield.

Cllr Judith Blake, Chair of Core Cities UK, said:

‘Government needs to recognise that all places, whether a town or a city, are not islands and their economies rely on each other. This Budget is an opportunity to exploit our economic networks, driving growth across the whole of the UK. For that to happen we must ensure that there is fair funding for every community in the country. Wherever people live, local services are facing an uphill struggle and we must chart a new course, from austerity to prosperity.’ 

Cllr Peter John OBE, Chair of London Councils, said:

‘It’s time to end the culture of local Leaders and Mayors from all over the country being forced to go begging to Whitehall for hand-outs each year. Local communities know how best to promote economic growth and meet the needs of communities in their areas and we need to have the freedoms and powers to do so now.’


In their submissions to Treasury ahead of the Spring Budget 2020, London Councils and Core Cities UK are calling for:

• Bigger, bolder devolution
• Increased funding to local government
• Investment in transport infrastructure
• Action on climate change
• A major boost to housing supply

Visit Core Cities UK’s website to read their Budget submission in full:

Click here to download London Councils' Budget submission.

Core Cities UK represents Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield. These cities sit at the centre of 11 of the UK’s largest urban economies outside London. Core Cities city regions deliver 25% of the UK’s economic output.

London Councils represents London’s 32 boroughs and the City of London Corporation. It is a cross-party organisation that works on behalf of all of its member authorities regardless of political persuasion.