Miliband endorses Adonis’s plans for massive devolution to regions

Speaking in Leeds tomorrow, Ed Miliband will announce the findings of an extensive review into British business, which in particular examines how to address regional imbalances in growth.

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The Adonis Growth Review – a key section of the party’s policy review – argues for creating Combined Authorities. Such authorities – formed when a group of local authorities take collective responsibility for functions previously carried out by central government, particularly with regard to transport and economic policy –  would act as a means to give cities and regions more power.

The plans that Miliband will unveil (which you can read in further detail below) outline the importance of devolution – moving powers away from Westminster – by using £30 billion to give more power to Combined Authorities, existing local authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs – partnerships between local government and local business, which decide how investment should be made in local roads, buildings and facilities).

Miliband will then go on to commit to long-term strategies that will nurture innovation in science and research, and will endorse Adonis’s proposals to encourage growth amongst SMEs at a local level.

The review conducted by Andrew Adonis also outlines plans to take on the skills shortage and low-level employment among young people by creating University Technical Colleges and trebling the number of apprenticeships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths for school leavers.

During the speech, Miliband will explain that  effective economic reforms must be about moving power away from central government and empowering people at a local level: 

“There are long-standing problems in our economy which we have known about for decades but not tackled. The global financial crisis represented a moment when the tide went out and the rocks hidden beneath were exposed. These problems began long before the Crash and will not be solved simply by the belated end of the recession. 

Our response must be to grow the wealth of our country – not by big spending – but by big reform of our economy. It is a One Nation vision. If we are to create the wealth of the future and solve the cost of living crisis, we must help create high-quality private-sector jobs not just in one part of Britain, but in every part of Britain.  Independent experts say four fifths of all the new private sector jobs created since 2010 are in London. We know that’s not good enough. And we know what made for successful towns and cities in the past. It is what businesses, universities and civic leaders are trying to recreate here in Leeds. 

A clear mission for the future backed by investment in infrastructure, world-leading education, science and research, gold-standard apprenticeships. But it cannot begin unless we give you the power to make it possible. The Adonis Review sets out plans to devolve £30 billion worth of funding And the next Labour Government will ensure city and county regions, like this powerhouse economy in Leeds, get control of business rates revenue. So that any extra money raised here thanks to the efforts of you and everyone in this great city can be invested here. 

I know the next Labour Government cannot solve every problem by pulling levers in Whitehall. We can only do it by working with, harnessing the energy, the ideas and the dynamism of great businesses, cities, county regions – and you. So that you can help build and share in a more successful and prosperous Britain.”

The Adonis Review – the details

In terms of devolution, the Review calls for the following: 

  • Creating more Combined Authorities (using Greater Manchester as a model) to address ongoing issues of poor skills, infrastructure and economic development
  • Giving these Combined Authorities more revenue from Business Rates to invest in building further success. From this, any additional income generated by growth would be invested locally.
  • LEPs would be given  a say over growth strategies and priorities, aided by a pot of money to invest in economic development at their disposal
  • More than £30bn of funding identified by the Adonis Review could be devolved to combined authorities, existing local authorities and LEPs over the course of a parliament – three times more than is planned now. This would include funding for housing, transport, business support, employment and adult skills

In terms of long-term strategies for science and research, Labour will set out:

  • A long-term national funding framework for innovation policy, which includes giving small innovative firms more access to government research budgets
  • The leadership are also considering plans to  expand of the number and capacity of Catapult Centres – which help to commercialise research in key growth areas such as manufacturing and cell therapy.

In terms of small and medium enterprise (SME), the Adonis Review builds upon some of the policies Labour have already outlined, recommending ways the government can nurture  SME growth. This includes:

  • Setting a target for 25% of all government procurement contracts to go to SMEs both directly and through supply chains.
  • Establishing a new Small Business Administration to drive policy and practice to meet this target, as well as providing support for SMEs across government.
  • Creating a regional network of Small Business Investment Companies in line with Labour’s policy on introducing regional banks
  • Using LEP as business hubs to spread apprenticeships and help start-up businesses
  • Reforming UK Trade & Investment and UK Export Finance so they give better support to business.

To address the near record levels of youth unemployment and ongoing shortage of skills amongst the workforce, the Adonis Review suggests:

  • Expanding high quality apprenticeships – trebling the number of apprenticeships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.
  • Creating at least 100 new University Technical Colleges
  • Creating a new “Teach Next” so that those people who have successfully changed careers can to teach maths and science.
  • Giving teenagers more and better advice in terms of work and apprenticeships by appointing directors of enterprise and employment in schools.

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