WEST Midlands Mayor Andy Street has today called for the financial devolution of local taxes to be the next part of the Government’s devolution agenda and feature in the upcoming whitepaper.
The Mayor wants the Government to allow metro mayors and combined authorities across the country to retain taxes that are raised locally – such as vehicle exercise duty, air passenger duty, and a part of stamp duty. It is estimated this could raise between £2-5 billion over the course of three to five years.
The West Midlands already has 100 per cent retention of business rates.
The idea is that it allows people to see some of their taxes being spent locally, whilst also stopping the need of mayoral combined authorities to make the case to government civil servants every time they want to press ahead with a project locally.
Recently the West Midlands has successfully secured central government funding for projects such as new railway stations, metro expansions, and brownfield land remediation, but the mayor argues projects such as these could have been funded locally if combined authorities had greater financial clout.
“It simply isn’t right that most of the time there is a project that needs funding locally, we have to convince London civil servants who have no knowledge or experience of the area that it is the right thing to do,” said Mr Street.
“No one knows their area better than the likes of local authorities and elected officials, so with greater financial power we would be able to make bigger and bolder decisions to improve the lives of our residents.
“We know how much taxes such as vehicle exercise duty, stamp duty, and air passenger duty raise locally, so the logical place to start would be allow us to retain these to spend locally.
“Doing this would also help give greater accountability to Metro Mayors, and stop the regular central Government blame game when a project goes unfunded.”
The Government has already announced a Devolution Whitepaper, which is expected to launch later this year.