Government vows to balance "London-focused" Britain after election

Britain Prime minister David Cameron answers journalists' questions on May 27, 2014 as he arrives to take part in the Informal European Council at the EU Headquarters in Brussels. Britain's Conservative-led government on Monday promised to rebal
Britain Prime minister David Cameron answers journalists' questions on May 27, 2014 as he arrives to take part in the Informal European Council at the EU Headquarters in Brussels. Britain's Conservative-led government on Monday promised to rebalance a "London-focused" economy if it is re-elected in 2015, setting decentralisation as a key battleground in the run-up to the vote. -- PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - Britain's Conservative-led government on Monday promised to rebalance a "London-focused" economy if it is re-elected in 2015, setting decentralisation as a key battleground in the run-up to the vote.

The coalition has been accused of ruling for the benefit of the capital, whose economy dwarfs that of other British regions, and a September referendum on Scottish independence has fuelled debate on localised rule.

Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday vowed to give local authorities £5 billion (S$10.7 billion) to spend on housing, transport links and traineeships across England if he is re-elected.

"For too long our economy has been too London-focused and too centralised," Cameron said as he announced the project, which aims to improve transport links to make smaller British cities more attractive for businesses.

The promise came after the Labour party promised to promote regional growth by giving local areas power over £30 billion in spending, including funds to train young people and held them find work.

"This will begin to reverse a century of centralisation," Labour leader Ed Miliband wrote in The Guardian newspaper late on Sunday.

A May survey by pollsters YouGov and research group Centre for Cities found a majority of British people living elsewhere believed national policies were focused on London, and that many believed the city's economic and cultural dominance was to the detriment of other regions.