For England, see Wales: MPs call for tax devolution

Is English devolution an idea whose time has come?

A committee of MPs has suggested that the big English cities should get more tax-raising powers. The taxes involved include stamp duty and business rates, taxes which are in the process of being devolved to Wales.

Committee chair Clive Betts said: "The government should work with groups of local authorities, focused initially on England's large cities, to break the log-jam stopping local areas from shaping their economic destiny.

"The public might well ask, when Scotland and Wales are being promised ever greater fiscal devolution, why not England? Devolving these powers is the next step on the path to genuine localism."

Local government expert Professor Tony Travers told the BBC: "What the committee has done is taken a great deal of evidence about the position of English cities within the British government system and have decided that we have a very, very centralised arrangement in England and that the time has come for major cities and city regions such as those in Manchester or Leeds or Birmingham or London to have greater powers to raise their own money and therefore to have an incentive to build up their local tax base to reinvest in projects such as transport within the city or city region.

"The real purpose behind this is to give the great cities of England the kind of independence frankly in their terms that Scotland and Wales have been given. Remember the economy of Greater Manchester, the economy of the Leeds city region are in each case bigger than the economy of Wales so there's no reason they can't make these decisions themselves."

The UK government's initial response to the report suggests that may not be as straightforward as it sounds.

Related Topics