April 8, 2014 / 2:25 AM / 4 years ago

Labour party targets non-London voters with devolution plan

LONDON (Reuters) - Ed Miliband will on Tuesday appeal to voters living outside London by offering to double the spending powers of regions and cities in England if his Labour party wins the next election.

Labour have a 4 percentage point opinion poll lead over Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives heading into a 2015 election. But Miliband has been criticised for a perceived lack of economic policies to challenge the Conservatives, who have won credit for overseeing Britain’s recovery from recession.

Identifying devolution as path to greater prosperity outside London, Miliband will offer a two-fold increase in the funding under the control of English cities and regions if they come up with an economic strategy to generate well-paid jobs.

“We need a prosperous London, but we also need to build prosperity outside it,” Miliband will say according to extracts of his speech released in advance.

Last year, one of the coalition government’s senior members, Lib Dem Vince Cable, said London’s powerhouse economy was becoming “a giant suction machine draining the life out of the rest of the country”.

Miliband’s party sits on the centre-left of British politics and typically dominates voting in the less-prosperous north of the country, home to some of the lowest productivity levels.

He said the devolution could hand over control of 20 billion pounds to cities and regions by the end of the decade, allowing direct investment in housing and transport infrastructure without central government approval.

Official data shows productivity rates are highest in inner London, where financial services firms generate high outputs with relatively few staff, but drop off sharply outside the city and are lowest in regions traditionally linked to manufacturing.

Reporting by William James; Editing by Toby Chopra

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