PM defends Levelling Up funding and denies it favours South East
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Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove has said he wants to give Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham a guaranteed funding pot to be spent freely in the area. The devolution-style fiscal deal would ensure levelling up can be achieved and is ingrained in UK law. However, a staggering 90 per cent of Express.co.uk readers oppose such a deal.
Speaking at the Convention of the North in Manchester last week, Mr Gove said giving mayors like Labour’s Mr Burnham more control over their finances was “absolutely the direction of travel”.
The Levelling Up Department and Greater Manchester officials are in talks to create a “trailblazer” devolution deal. At present, metro mayors are reliant on bidding for central Government funding against other regions.
Mr Burnham argued that the north and combined authorities should be funded in a similar way to devolved nations in the UK with a Barnett Formula calculating spending allowances.
He said: “We want to have a single grant settlement as part of our ask for devolution, like Scotland and Wales.” He said that this model would reduce disparities between the north and south of England.
In a poll that ran from 2:30pm on Thursday, January 26, to 11:30am on Thursday, February 2, Express.co.uk asked readers: “Should Manchester get a Scotland-style devolved funding deal?”
Overall, 1,962 readers responded, with the vast majority, 90 per cent (1,769 people) answering “no” against Manchester having a devolution deal.
Whereas nine per cent (183 people) said “yes” in favour of the plans, and a further one per cent (10 people) said they did not know either way.
Dozens of comments were left below the accompanying article as readers shared their thoughts on more devolution deals.
The overwhelming response from readers was against Manchester having a devolution deal. Username Poppy9 argued: “Devolution should be scrapped not extended.”
Similarly, username Beanyboy2802 said: “We should be working towards getting rid of devolution, not applying it to more places that don’t need it.”
Another, username Joe Kidd, said: “Devolved parliaments and devolved funding doesn’t work.”
And username LizGlaisher added: “Devolution is a fiscal disaster.”
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Other readers commented that the UK did not need further divisions. Username DaemonStorm said: “The UK is fractured enough as it is.”
Likewise, username Fiona McLaren wrote: “Get rid of ‘devolution’ throughout the UK. We’re too small a country to have extra layers.”
Username Babyboomer agreed: “Absolutely not. We are too small a country for people to start building fiefdoms. A Government should be more than capable of running an island the size of ours.”
While username JohnCh1, said: “Surely we have learned that devolution causes more issues than it solves.”
Last month the UK Government gave £2.1billion to fund 111 levelling-up projects across the country, yet the distribution of funds was criticised for favouring the south-east.
Manchester council leader and co-Chair of Convention of the North Bev Craig, said: “Across the north, we still too often face disparities of wealth, health and opportunity that could be redressed through a long-term approach to investment and infrastructure.
“Cities such as Manchester have a clear understanding of where investment is needed to generate growth that benefits everyone, and we are best placed to be able to deliver.”
A spokesman for Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said that funding should not be based on an “arbitrary formula” but rather based on the needs of an area.
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