Labour peer Jeremy Beecham believes devolution is urgently needed

Labour peer Jeremy Beecham tells The Journal devolution is urgently needed to address inequalities that 'disfigures' society

Lord Jeremy Beecham
Lord Jeremy Beecham

An English version of the Barnett Formula is needed to iron out “profound inequalities” which are “disfiguring our society”, North East peer Jeremy Beecham has said.

The Newcastle peer said the Government is “passing the buck without passing the bucks” by asking local authorities to enforce its swingeing cuts and calls for the devolution debate to focus on “an agenda of decentralisation and partnership.”

It comes as the Government looks to devolve power to English regions in the wake of the Scottish Independence Referendum.

He said urban authorities like Newcastle City Council have suffered under the Coalition’s tenure and said devolution to the North East Combined Authority could empower a region where he says lives are “stunted by poverty” and “a sense of being neglected”.

He said: “The present government has deliberately off-loaded responsibilities to local authorities, for example in the area of council tax support, without the necessary financial resources- a process I have labelled passing the buck without passing the bucks.

“Moreover they have deliberately skewed the system of local government finance to impose much larger reductions in grant on predominantly urban authorities.”

Lord Beecham dismissed the Tory proposal for ‘English votes for English laws’ as “political gamesmanship” and said the Government must support local initiatives on health, welfare, education, housing, infrastructure and transport.

He said: “We need to redress the profound inequalities which disfigure our society, and hamper our efforts to grow the economy in a globalised, competitive world. We need to restore hope to a generation of young people and to communities where too many lives are stunted by poverty, ill-health and a sense of being neglected. Power and resources must be restored to democratically elected local government in partnership with Central Government.”

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