Two-thirds of business leaders across the UK support the government’s plans to give more powers to local politicians on housing, planning, transport, education, skills and local taxes, according to a survey published today by the Institute of Directors
In the survey of more than 1,000 IoD members, eight out of 10 people wanted decisions over housing and planning to be made by local politicians, while three-quarters backed the devolution of powers over transport and half on education and skills.
“Businesses see huge potential in devolving power from Westminster to England’s great cities and regions,” says James Sproule, chief economist and director of policy at the IoD.
“Each has its own strengths, opportunities and challenges, and should be given much more control over vital areas including education and skills training, local transport, and planning and housing.
“Local government, working with business will know how to boost competitiveness and tap into an area’s specialisms much better than any central planner in Whitehall,” he adds.
Businesses have welcomed the devolution proposals put forward by the chancellor as an opportunity to revitalise regional economies by encouraging them to compete to deliver efficient transport systems, workers with the right skills and policies which will attract businesses to the region and foster entrepreneurship.
“However, if local authorities seek to avoid political responsibility for devolved issues or to boost their coffers by hiking taxes and creating obstacles to business, the great opportunities of devolution will be lost,” Sproule warns.
Six in 10 IoD members said they were concerned that devolution could lead to higher taxes or a more complicated tax system.
George Osborne has invited local governments across England to submit proposals for devolution by the beginning of September, with further details to be announced in the Autumn Statement, which is scheduled for 25 November.
To read the full survey reuslts, visit iod.com