Eight urban centres will have greater say over major spending projects

Eight of England’s big cities will be given extra powers to drive growth – including the freedom to invest in and secure money for major spending projects.

The government announced on Friday that Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle, Nottingham, Manchester and Sheffield would be the first cities to receive the powers.

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said the “core cities” would be given more freedom from Whitehall to invest in and secure major spending projects, such as roads and buildings.

Under the proposals the cities will be able to keep and set their local business rates rather than receive a share of those decided by the government.

Clegg said: “We need our cities to be economic, social and cultural magnets - places people aspire to live. Firstly, cities will have greater freedom to invest in growth. Secondly, having power over transport, housing, broadband. Finally, the power to boost skills and jobs.

“Our cities have been straining at Whitehall’s leash. They now have a once in a generation opportunity. I urge them to seize it and make it count.”