Fylde businesses keen on devolution of power

John Longworth, Director General of British Chambers of Commerce and Babs Murphy, Chief Executive of North Western Chamber of Commerce
John Longworth, Director General of British Chambers of Commerce and Babs Murphy, Chief Executive of North Western Chamber of Commerce
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With England celebrating St George’s Day, a survey from county business leaders has shown firms in the county want more decisions taken in town halls, rather than from Whitehall.

The results, from a poll of all the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce’s members, show 84 per cent believe greater devolution of powers and resources to a more local level is needed in England.

Almost 80 per cent of businesses believe business support policies should be devolved, while slightly more than half said tax rates should be set at a more local level.

Just under 90 per cent said the devolution process should be put to a referendum.

Nationwide, in a poll by the British Chambers of Commerce, 42 per cent said they believed greater devolution to a local level would have a positive impact on their business.

The majority of businesses identified simplifying local government (58 per cent) and giving ratepayers a vote on local economic strategies (51 per cent) as the most effective methods of increasing the accountability and effectiveness of local government.

NWLCC chief executive Babs Murphy said: “There would be potentially a lot to gain from devolution.

“Local government would have to be more reactive to the wishes of their voters if they have to raise taxation themselves and are accountable for the delivery of public services.

“Policy results would also be better because it would allow for greater experimentation and responsiveness to local preferences.

“Fiscal subsidiarity would also see a cut in inefficient spending as regional powers would be under continuous examination from the taxpayer and voters.”

British Chambers of Commerce director general John Longworth said: “Firms want to see spending decisions related to local growth made in their areas, but remain very sceptical of any devolution of tax-setting powers.

“Our research shows businesspeople in England broadly support the concept of further devolution to their local area. Firms want to see spending decisions related to local growth made in their areas, but remain very sceptical of any devolution of tax-setting powers.

“Businesses don’t support devolution for devolution’s sake. However, they support greater local decision-making if it means greater efficiency, accountability and better results.”