Calls for powers to be devolved to Sheffield

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Decision-makers in cities such as Sheffield should be given the power to revalue council tax bands and allocate central Government funding more freely, a major new report has suggested.

The RSA City Growth Commission is calling for a ‘significant devolution of finance’ away from central government to city regions.

Its new interim report said devolving power to cities could help drive investment, create jobs and reform public services.

But it has warned not all cities are ‘ready to take this leap’ and powers should be devolved to areas only which have the right governance structures and economic performance levels.

The study has not named which cities it believes are suitable for devolution, but a final report in October is expected to put forward recommendations.

City leaders in Sheffield have welcomed the report.

James Newman, chairman of the Sheffield City Region local enterprise partnership, said: “There is real momentum building around the decentralisation agenda and this report makes an important contribution to this debate. We hope a clear cross-Government vision for the future and an irreversible commitment to this process is a legacy of this Parliament.”

Richard Wright, chief executive of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “We have been campaigning for more local decision making for some time. For most business people it seems illogical that national programmes, introduced without any consideration of local problems, are ever going to deliver the maximum results. This is both a great opportunity and a great challenge.”

The Commission launched last October as a 12-month inquiry.