"Whilst there are a couple of nods in the right direction, the sad fact is that measures like banning letting agent fees, increasing the Living Wage and withdrawing benefits more slowly are, whilst welcome, a few small drops in an ocean of inequality.
Brexit is presenting a major economic challenge on top of an already difficult situation, so I recognise that nothing is easy here. But if the government wants a ‘watertight’ UK economy it needs to stop punching holes in local government’s hull. More than a half decade of damage is putting critical services at risk, with adult social care on the verge of going under around the country. It's undermining our ability to deliver the kind of society essential to our hopes of delivering a strong and resilient economy.
Devolution is the right direction. We need a rebalancing of sovereignty from Westminster to our cities. But we need a really meaningful dialogue about how it progresses so it delivers what it must.
Cities like Bristol are hampered in how we can contribute whilst we remain one of the most centralised countries in the Western world. The 10 largest urban areas outside of London represent a quarter of GDP and have come together to make an offer to government. We will deliver inclusive and productive growth, more jobs, more housing and drive up living standards across more than half of the UK. We urge Government to work with us, provide our cities with the right tools, and we will get on with the job. We need devolved powers and funding to unlock housing sites; local control over skills budgets to nurture our talent; and a place-based approach to developing the country’s Industrial Strategy alongside us. It cannot be that government continues to ‘do to’ cities, it must start ‘doing with’ us if the country and our local areas are to weather the storm ahead and ultimately flourish."
Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol