Northern cities need more powers to help reduce the economic divide, says IoD

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The Government should devolve more powers to Northern cities in order to reduce the North-South economic divide, according to the director general of the Institute of Directors (IoD).

Simon Walker believes that businesses could benefit from lower taxes if cities like Leeds and Newcastle had greater control over their finances.

Mr Walker, who is due to visit Leeds today to open the IoD’s new regional headquarters in Old Broadcasting Place, is concerned about the unevenness of prosperity across the UK. Sixty seven per cent of IoD members who were polled in a recent survey said they would like to see tax and spending powers devolved to regional cities.

Mr Walker said yesterday: “To me, it would be a matter of empowering the regions and giving them more authority. I would like to see more tax and spending powers devolved to the regions. I would like to strengthen the LEPs and local economic capacity generally. The man in Whitehall doesn’t know best. If you empower local decision makers you will get better results. Business leaders will feel that they can work and thrive in other parts of the country.”

Transport connections to airports were also important, he added.

“Leeds Bradford is my favourite airport in the UK. It’s a good efficient airport. Better connectivity would be great,’’ Mr Walker said.

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