North of England needs 'a Salmond figure' to win 'devo-more' from London

Published on Tuesday, 13 November 2012 11:02
Posted by Vicki Mitchem

The North risks falling further behind Scotland whether or not Scots vote for independence, according a new report from the IPPR North think tank.

The report is published on the day that Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond gives a speech in Newcastle to the North East Economic Forum annual dinner.

The report argues that the Northern economy is unable to dispatch a single ambassador to Westminster who can argue for more powers for the North but that Scotland's First Minister helps the Scottish economy 'speak with one voice'.

The report shows that Scotland can already develop and resource a targeted industrial strategy and attract inward investors with generous support packages but argues that the North of England's Local Enterprise Partnerships pale in comparison.  The report argues both independence and further devolution to Scotland will put the North at risk of tax competition.

The report also cautions against alarmist claims, arguing Scotland will not be able to make sweeping tax cuts without risking its fiscal credibility. But it argues that Scotland gaining the power to implement small targeted tax cuts, such as to Air Passenger Duty, should be of greater concern than dramatic reductions in corporation tax.

The report recommends:

Northern leaders should join the negotiation about what further devolution for Scotland should look like in the event of a no vote on independence, with safeguards built in to manage excessive tax competition with the North.Northern leaders should demand control of far more powers and resources from London in order to begin to level the playing field with Scotland.

Katie Schmuecker, IPPR North Associate Director, said:

"As Scotland's nearest neighbours it is important that the North joins the debate about Scotland's future. The North should learn from international experience and argue that a more fiscally autonomous Scotland should sign up to a fiscal code of conduct to allay fears of serious damage to the northern economy.

"The North should not be afraid of developments in Scotland. The risk of Scotland reducing corporation tax has been overstated and in the short and medium term it is extremely unlikely that Scotland would choose to 'do an Ireland' given its current fiscal situation.

"Northern leaders should learn from the ambitious outlook of the Scots, and champion decentralisation and further local powers to the North. This is a chance for the North to renegotiate its position with Westminster to ensure its future prosperity. It needs to ensure that whatever deal is reached between Westminster and Holyrood, the North is not unduly disadvantaged."

Cllr Paul Watson, Leader of Sunderland City Council and Chair of ANEC said:

"This is a critically important issue for the North East economy and one we need to address and so I welcome the report and also am delighted that the North East Economic Forum continues its valuable work and has attracted the Scottish First Minister to address the Forum on Tuesday."

Source: ©IPPR

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