Budget offers minor measures to support growth of UK cities
21 March 2012
Today’s Budget rightly emphasises the importance of cities in delivering UK growth. The measures announced include:
· £150 million available, from 2013/14, for larger scale projects to be financed through Tax Increment Financing;
· An increase to Growing Places Fund of £270 million and an additional £70 million for the Greater London Authority;
· £50 million to fund an second wave of ‘super-connected’ cities for smaller cities;
· Enhanced Capital Allowances for Enterprise Zones located in London Royal Docks, Scotland, and Deeside in North Wales; and,
· Agreement of proposals to pilot an Earn Back Model in Manchester to support infrastructure investment – the government will provide up to £30 million a year of funding rom 2015–16.
Although recognition of how important cities are for growth and jobs is welcome, these measures are relatively minor in terms of the level of government investment and expected impact .
What cities really need is meaningful devolution of powers and resources from central government so that they can develop local policy responses that reflect local needs. Hopefully the City Deals announced late last year will begin to deliver this, but it remains to be seen. In most cases Whitehall’s track record of ‘letting go’ is not good.