Lord Heseltine calls on ministers to create jobs and boost economic growth in England's cities

Boosting economic growth in England's biggest cities is vital to create more jobs, a senior Conservative has said.

Former deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine said he wanted to see power decentralised away from Whitehall and into major urban centres such as Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle.

Lord Heseltine's 228-page report details how he believes the coalition should produce a long-term strategy for economic growth outside London.

In the document, which was commissioned by Chancellor George Osborne, Lord Heseltine suggests that up to 250,000 of new public funding should be given to local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) over the next few years.

He also calls for growth funds administered by different government departments to be brought together into a single pot for local areas.

His ideas have been welcomed by some business leaders, but Lord Heseltine acknowledged that they would go down like a "lead balloon" in parts of Whitehall.

The suggestion that government departments should lose some of their power is unlikely to be popular, he admitted.

But his report claims that too much power has been accumulated in London and calls for more public money to be spent on helping to unlock the potential of provincial English cities.

His proposals include the formation of a new national growth council, to be chaired by the Prime Minister, and a wider cross-government focus on driving growth and wealth creation.

Lord Heseltine told BBC Radio 4 that the Government was doing an "extremely good" job, but said it needed to go "further and faster" towards moving power away from London.

He added: "There is an urgency. Across the world there are emerging economies after our jobs. They are using every known device to get part of what we want.

"We have to mobilise every resource. We have enormous excellence in companies and universities, but the average needs to be jacked up."

Lord Heseltine also said he wants to see ministers taking "another stride" to unleash the potential of the regions, adding: "The key question is whether we can use the scarce public money to mobilise the potential of provincial English cities."

Copyright Press Association 2012