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Spring Budget response

Cllr John Merry
Cllr John Merry, Chair of Key Cities
March 16, 2023
Cllr John Merry speaks for the network following the Chancellor’s recent announcement

We welcome the Government’s ambition for a ‘devolution revolution’, and the introduction of two trailblazer deals and 12 investment zones will certainly support the levelling up agenda in those areas – many of which are in Key Cities’ membership.

However, numerous towns and cities will miss out on such initiatives, so we urge the Government to address the impact on locations that are not afforded such status, especially in terms of infrastructure provision, productivity and skills. Specially, we would like to see investment in creative microclusters to spread economic growth and opportunity more evenly around the country, as part of a wider move to hyper-local devolution that connects policy agendas and empowers communities. Local leaders are best placed to develop and implement funding and policies that suit their individual businesses and communities, provided they are given the tools, autonomy and flexibility to do so.

It is heartening to see the Chancellor’s commitment to addressing the climate crisis through significant investment in carbon technology and nuclear energy, both of which will also generate green jobs and keep the UK on track to meet its net zero target. The new nutrient neutrality credit schemes could also mitigate the environmental impact of new housebuilding whilst speeding up the planning process, but we urge caution to ensure this does not lead to lower quality outcomes for both people and planet in the long term.

We hope the Government recognises that our Key Cities could be the engine rooms for the UK’s economic recovery, and steps up its investment and policies to ensure we can help our people and places to thrive.

Cllr John Merry, Deputy City Mayor of Salford and Chair of Key Cities.

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