Scotland’s cities call for new economic powers
Council leaders in Scotland’s seven cities are calling for a new powers over tax and spending to allow them to reach their full economic potential.
The city leaders have published a four-point plan in the report ‘Empowering City Government’ outlining the benefits of councils gaining new powers over tax, spending and major infrastructure projects.
They claim that only a fundamental shake-up of current powers will allow them to compete with other cities at home and abroad, pointing specifically to the challenges Scottish cities face from their English counterparts who are “gaining a competitive advantage” as a result of city region and devolution deals.
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Scotland’s seven cities – Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness, Perth and Stirling – together contribute more than half of Scotland’s GVA and provide more than 60 per cent of the country’s workforce.
In the report the council leaders call for closer working ties with national infrastructure bodies such as Transport Scotland, Scottish Water and Zero Waste Scotland.
They also call for a more joined-up approach to enterprise and skills and for local authorities to be given a bigger say on migration policy.
In addition, the council leaders want more involvement in the policy development and execution of new welfare powers, as well as more responsibility for policy in health and social care.
City of Edinburgh Council leader Councillor Andrew Burns said he wanted Scotland’s cities to be given a clear strategic role in directing investments to cities and city regions.
He said: “Scotland’s seven cities are committed to driving forward economic growth, so we can continue to promote ourselves on the international stage as attractive, modern places to invest and to carry out business with.
“The important research we have commissioned suggests that a new partnership is required if we are to reach our economic potential and meet the significant challenges that lie ahead.
“Fundamental to this new approach are a number of shared objectives which include improving connectivity and infrastructure, setting a diverse tax system across Scotland, improving our communities and a radical change to economic development.
“We firmly believe that by embracing these key changes we can ensure Scotland can compete economically with other cities close to home and globally.”
The group is calling for a meeting to discuss their proposals with the Scottish and UK governments as soon as possible.