On devolution and why it’s what London needs
At the behest of the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, the London Finance Commission reconvened once more to produce an evidence based report on the possibilities of devolution with specific focus on tax and spending arrangements in the capital. This report, titled Devolution: a capital idea, is especially important seeing as the political landscape will continue to be altered after the June 2016 EU referendum vote. The process of devolution has been evolving since the LFC last convened in May 2013 when they published their first report, Raising the Capital. LSE London’s director, Tony Travers, chaired the LFC for this report.
Overall, the Commission believes, Travers claims, that with the recommendations put forth in the report, ‘there would be more jobs and growth in London if the government of London had greater financial autonomy’. Processes of devolution are underway in Scotland and Wales but the conversation about England has not gained traction. With its relative new structure of city-wide government, London could readily wield more power and fiscal economy, claims Travers.
The report’s key argument is as follows: ‘a broader tax base with stronger fiscal controls at the local level will support the delivery of more integrated and efficient services and increased infrastructure investment, while allowing for the reform of individual taxes’.
The main recommendations that came out of the report advocate for continuing to work with central government to secure more fiscal and service devolution, ‘including in transport, skills, employment, housing, planning, healthcare, criminal justice and economic development’.