New powers for Scotland should mean greater powers for the West Midlands and local councils, Ian Austin said today.
The promise of new powers for Scotland means the West Midlands and local councils must be granted a fairer share of public spending, new powers and greater freedoms, Ian Austin said today.
He spoke out after Westminster leaders promised the Scottish Parliament new powers including greater autonomy for public spending, new freedoms to raise taxes, guarantees on NHS spending and new powers to decide welfare policies.
Austin – a former minister for the West Midlands - is calling for the West Midlands and other English regions to be given wide-ranging new powers and responsibility for public spending in areas like skills, transport, housing, regeneration and infrastructure.
He says the West Midlands should get a fairer share of public spending and he is calling for the appointment of a Minister for the West Midlands with the same powers as the London Mayor.
He highlighted official figures for public spending which show public spending is £ 8,498 per head in the West Midlands, compared to £ 10,152 in Scotland, £ 10,876 in Northern Ireland, £ 9,709 in Wales and £ 9,435 in London.
The national average is £8,788 and public spending is higher in the North East, the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber than in the West Midlands too.
Ian Austin said:
“If it’s right for Scotland, right for Wales and right for London, why can’t the five million people in the West Midlands have a greater say over public spending and public services in the region?
“The answer to greater powers for Scotland is devolution to the English regions, greater powers for us here in the West Midlands and a fairer share of public spending.
“We’ve got some world-beating businesses like Jaguar Land Rover and JCB and we’ve got world-beating universities, but we’ve also got too many people out of work and real problems attracting investment for the new industries and jobs we need to replace the ones we’ve lost.
“Output in the West Midlands lagged behind the national average since 1976. If output in the Black Country matched the national average just in the Black Country our economy would be £8 billion bigger.
“This shows that the current situation isn’t working for people in the West Midlands.”