Scottish devolution could prompt cities to call for devolved tax powers

The mayor of Bristol, George Ferguson, has called on the government to give cities greater powers to determine their own taxes, as the referendum on Scottish Independence begins.

Responding to questions about the proposed devo-max measures that are being used to lure Scottish voters to remain in the UK, Mr Ferguson said it was vital for economic growth that tax powers were also devolved to cities.

Bristol has led the way when it comes to creating a sense of Independence, having already created its own form of currency, which can only be spent in the town – meaning money remains in the local economy.

Mr Ferguson said that the UK’s Cities were the principal drivers of growth and that the country was lagging “behind many of our foreign counterparts in terms of devolving power to cities” – describing the lack of regional devolution as an “Embarrassment.

“Currently little more than 5% of our total tax take is retained locally, leaving us with the indignity of having to beg for what is due to us from the government of the time,” he added.

This latest development comes after the publication of a new report from centre-right think-tank ResPublica entitled, From Devo Max to Devo Manc, which called for a piloted devolution to take place in the Greater Manchester area.

In a long list of recommendations made in the report, ResPublica said total Manchester public spending should be brought under the control of a Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and called on Westminster to hand over property taxes to the GMCA within the first three years of the next parliament, before moving on to devolve local income taxes.

The issue of regional devolution could have wide-reaching impacts on the, already over complicated, UK tax system and is likely not to occur any time soon.

But if Scotland does vote no and gains extra powers under devolution there might be a number of large UK cities asking for the same changes as Bristol and Manchester.

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