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Jim O'Neill: 'State of the art infrastructure between Northern cities is probably way more important than HS2'

‘State of the art infrastructure between Northern cities is probably way more important than HS2’

On 22nd October, 2014 the RSA City Growth Commission final report, ‘Unleashing Metro Growth’, was launched. The Commission’s ‘chair’, former Goldman Sachs economist Jim O’Neill, told Sky News that while devolving powers from Westminster was long overdue, the critical issue was solving a “hopeless” infrastructure.


The report makes the case for, and explain how, cities can take a new role in our political economy, creating stronger, more inclusive and sustainable growth in the UK.

The final report considers evidence heard by the Commission in the form of written submissions and evidence hearings, and discussions hosted by the Commission at seminars, roundtables and other stakeholder engagement.

The report draws on interim reports which have focused on skills, infrastructure, fiscal devolution and the role of universities in driving metro growth.

Key recommendations outline a significant shift – from the centre to metros – in policy and finance, enabling metro leaders to:

• Coordinate resources across their city-region and make strategic policy and finance decisions via place-based budgeting and investment strategy.

• Make more informed and responsive decisions based on evaluation of local data and evidence.

• Develop effective ways of integrating public service reform and economic development.

• Have greater flexibility over their spending and borrowing arrangements, including:

– Multi-year finance settlements of between five and 10 years,

– Retention of a proportion of the tax proceeds of growth; and

– Freedom for the most devolved metros to set and fully retain a suite of taxes.

Furthermore, metros should be represented in national decision making, bringing forward measures to enhance connectivity and growth, including:

• A comprehensive review on how our current and future needs for digital infrastructure can be met; and,

• Accelerated connectivity between metros in the North, Midlands and other ‘super city-regions’.

Other measures include lifting the cap on Tier 2 (non-EU) migration, devolution of adult skills budgets, and additional support for universities to help fuel their local economy.

Written by beleben

October 22, 2014 at 5:38 pm

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