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Miliband’s plans for empowering cities are just baby steps

Baroness Jo Valentine, Chief Executive of business group London First, said Ed Miliband’s promise to devolve more powers to cities amounted to baby steps.

“But we need central government to be braver because we are a long way behind other countries – at the moment, for example, London keeps 7% of the tax raised in the city, while New York keeps 50%,” she said.

“Raising the local growth fund to £4bn is not a big step forward in the scheme of things, we need much more greater fiscal autonomy for England’s great cities.”

“More powers for cities means more stability and certainty as local governments can plan over the long-term, rather than having to rely on the whims of central government.”

Baroness Valentine again called on Westminster to consider the findings of the Mayor’s recent London Finance Commission, which recommended that a suite of property taxes, such as council tax, business rates, and capital gains property tax, be devolved to London Government – an arrangement that could also be tailored to other cities and regions.

“Full devolution of all property taxes to London government – swapped pound for pound for existing grant so it’s no new money now — would still leave 88% of all London’s taxes going to straight to the Treasury,” she said. “Only in Britain could this be seen by the Treasury as too radical.”

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