Cllr Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council and Chair of Core Cities UK, said:
Government tells us it is committed to 'levelling up' the UK and there were several welcome announcements in Mr Sunak's first budget - particularly around infrastructure funding, a devolution deal for West Yorkshire and research and investment funding - that should help narrow the gap between different areas. However, as the OECD recently found in a report commissioned by Core Cities UK, there is much more we need to do to fix the UK's productivity and regional inequality problems and get our cities and towns firing on all cylinders.
Westminster and Whitehall can put rocket boosters under the levelling up agenda by committing to go further and faster on devolution to city regions - a key OECD recommendation. Economists agree that the highly centralised nature of the UK state is a major obstacle to productivity. The longer Government takes to do this and publish its long-awaited Devolution White Paper, the longer it will take to level up the UK and make a real difference to our 20 million citizens that already generate a quarter of the UK economy but could do so much more.
We will be talking to Government and Civil Servants over the coming weeks and months, helping them to inform policies using the OECD's knowledge and expertise.