A new report by leading think tank, Centre for Cities, in association with TLT, reveals that businesses feel the devolution of more powers over transport, housing and taxes will help boost UK companies in the years ahead.
However, a huge 79% said they have received little or no consultation from local government about their views on proposals for the transfer of powers to their region.
Centre for Cities commissioned a YouGov poll of over 1,000 UK-wide business owners and senior managers on the issues. Findings show that:
• 57% of respondents said their firm would benefit from local government having greater control over local transport
• over half (51%) said that giving local leaders more powers over major infrastructure projects, such as housing developments, would be an advantage to their business.
Business leaders also said they would welcome local politicians being able to vary or retain local taxes to unlock investment in their area – with 43% saying it would be good for their business.
The national research was supported by regional surveys in three areas (Bristol and the West of England, Greater Birmingham and Greater Manchester) to understand how these views vary in different cities. Roundtables took place in each of these cities with senior level decision makers in private business, and also a further roundtable in Glasgow.
The findings are published in the Centre for Cities and TLT report, ‘Firm views: The business take on devolution'. This offers the first in-depth insight into the views of businesses towards the Government’s devolution agenda – based on UK and local polling of business leaders, and consultations with firms from across a range of UK cities.
As well as highlighting the hunger from businesses to be consulted on the implementation of devolved powers, the research demonstrates a lack of clarity amongst the businesses consulted about the current state of play and next steps. It also showed clear differentiation in opinion and priorities between the regions.
The report argues that, as local governments prepare to take on more powers over the next few years, local leaders need to channel the enthusiasm of British businesses for greater devolution, by ensuring that firms in the regions are at the heart of discussions about key economic priorities such as transport, infrastructure and tax rates.