Speaking after the 2020 Spending Review, Cllr Judith Blake, Chair of Core Cities UK and Leader of Leeds City Council, said:
Today's Spending Review underlined the economic cost of Covid to the nation. The task now is recovery and renewal so we have a smarter and quicker return to better times. With that in mind, we cautiously welcome the Chancellor's announcements on a National Infrastructure Bank and a Levelling Up fund, but will wait for more detail and will press Government to make sure that they are truly place-based.
As we have said throughout the pandemic, a centralised, one size fits all, recovery effort will just not work. We need to make sure our councils have the funds they need to play their role, whether it be around track and trace, mass vaccination, or the building of new infrastructure that can generate jobs and investment in our cities and city regions.
The OBR data today will likely define political debate for the rest of this decade. The Chancellor must not introduce austerity by the back door, we have already seen the damage the last decade has done, we must invest properly in our local public services, making them smarter and more responsive, devolving power down to people and communities. Only then will we get the recovery we need for these extraordinary times.
In our CSR submission we argued that COVID 19 is accelerating transition to a different future economy, confronting the UK with a choice – deal with persistent challenges and grow, or risk entrenching inequality and low productivity. The big opportunity is to address not just the direct effects of the pandemic, but the structural problems within our society and economy that blight the lives of too many of our citizens.
Our vision is for a fully modernised, resilient UK economy that trades powerfully on the global stage, grows business and quality jobs, improves social mobility and achieves Net Zero. We will continue to press Government to listen to our ideas and empower cities and city regions to fulfil their potential despite the difficult times ahead.