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Ed Balls: Labour's £30bn devolution pledge to UK regions

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls says all parts of country, including West Midlands, will benefit - not just the northern powerhouse

Ed Balls
Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls

The Labour Party has announced plans to devolve £30 billion of public money to the regions - including Birmingham and the Midlands - if they win the general election.

The offer, outlined by Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, is the latest in a bidding war over between Labour and Conservatives on devolution and goes much further than previous pledges.

The funds for housing, transport, business support, employment and skills would be transferred from London to the regions over five years from 2016.

Combined authorities, such as the West Midlands one currently being negotiated between Birmingham, the Black Country and Solihull, would also keep any extra business rates generated by economic growth in their area.

In November Chancellor George Osborne pledged £1.2 billion to the combined Greater Manchester authorities after they agreed to have a directly elected Metro-Mayor in 2017.But Mr Balls has said that too much of the Tories devolution policies had been focused on the northern cities and other areas are missing out.

He said: “Too many parts of our country are being left behind by the Tories.

Labour’s economic plan is about ensuring every part of the country and all working people can benefit from economic recovery, not just a few.

“This means backing the cities, towns and regions of our country which are the engines of growth and job creation.

“So the next Labour government and a Labour Treasury will deliver the biggest devolution of economic power and funding to England’s city and county regions for generations. Our plans to devolve £30 billion of funding over a Parliament will be at the heart of Labour’s first spending review.

“We want to see not just a Northern powerhouse, but Midlands, Eastern and Southern powerhouses too. We will not only back our great cities, but our towns and county regions too. Not just urban areas, but also rural areas."

The £30 billion transfer from Whitehall to the regions is still short of the £50 billion single pot proposed by Lord Michael Heseltine in his No Stone Unturned report on devolution in 2012.

But much more the than the £2 billion a year pot currently issued by the Coalition Government.

With a nod to the Greater Manchester Metro-Mayor deal Mr Balls added: “And unlike the Tories, we won’t short-change areas which choose not to have an elected Mayor by giving them a second-class deal.

"Every part of England will benefit from Labour’s plans, not just a chosen few.”

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