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Give Welsh cities control of business rates urges Hain

Former Welsh Secretary Peter Hain is urging the Welsh Government to hand over revenue from business rates to new city regions to help transform the economy of Wales. He says ministers in Cardiff should follow the recommendation of a report by former Labour cabinet minister Lord Adonis.

Labour leader Ed Miliband used the report as the basis for his pledge to give strong powers including control of business rates to 'regional powerhouses' in England. Here in Wales there are already plans for two city regions, one based around Swansea and the other in the South East.

Control over business rates is partially devolved but is expected to be transferred to the Welsh Government in full through the Wales Bill currently being considered by Parliament. In a speech in Cardiff tonight Peter Hain will say.

When business rates are devolved to the Assembly as part of the new Wales Bill, the Welsh Government should look at the possibility of giving full control over revenue to new city and county regions.

The Adonis Review calls for the creation of more combined authorities modelled on that which already exists for Greater Manchester to tackle the chronic problems of poor skills, infrastructure and economic development. This is a welcome proposal and consistent with existing Welsh Government policy on local government reorganisation and the city region agenda.

The Welsh Government should also look to adopt Adonis's proposal for a long term innovation strategy in science and technology, which will help grow Wales’s R&D sector. The Review makes a series of recommendations for using the power of government to nurture the growth of small businesses, which the Welsh Government should also look at, including ensuring more government procurement contracts go to SMEs both directly and through supply chains.

– Peter Hain MP