Scots city leaders unite to call for more economic powers

THE council leaders in each of Scotland's seven cities have called for further devolution of economic powers to help them compete with other regions across the UK.

Glasgow and six other Scottish cities are calling for more economic powers to help them stay competitive both domesitcally and internationally. Picture: TSPL

Local authorities in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee, Perth, Stirling and Inverness claim greater tax powers are required if they are to grow local economies and maximise job creation.

Tourism tax, non-domestic rates and a share of income tax, property tax, climate change levy and air passenger duty have been identified as “priority areas” for discussion with the Holyrood and Westminster Governments at the earliest opportunity.

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The proposals were outlined in a new report, Empowering Scotland’s Cities, published this week.

It discusses the need for closer ties with national infrastructure bodies such as Transport Scotland and Scottish Water and Zero Waste Scotland, as well as calling for “a more joined-up approach” to enterprise and skills.

Council leaders also want more involvement in the development and execution of new welfare powers and more responsibility over social care.

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Edinburgh City Council leader Andrew Burns said: “Scotland’s 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 in.

“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 way cities receive and spend central government funding has been a subject of intense political debate for several years.

The Westminster Government signed the first of its new City Deals north of the border in 2014, when the Glasgow and Clyde Valley agreement was struck with the aim of creating 29,000 jobs over two decades.

A similar funding agreement for Edinburgh and South East Scotland is currently being negotiated.

Such deals allow major infrastructure spending to be spread over 20 years and across several council boundaries.