By Alexandra Jones

Does the Scotland Bill go far enough? That’s been the big question as the Bill was debated in Westminster in recent weeks, with the SNP arguing that Holyrood should have full control over child and working tax credits and the scope to decide to hold another independence referendum, neither of which feature in the Bill.

But another important question that’s been missing from these debates is what the Bill will mean for devolution beyond Holyrood. Part of the process of re-imagining how Scotland runs itself needs to focus on how the Scottish Government can use its new powers to give Glasgow and other cities more control over their own affairs.

This was a key recommendation in the Smith Commission report last year, which highlighted the “strong desire” across all parties for Holyrood to transfer more powers to communities and local authorities. Despite the apparent enthusiasm for further devolution, this issue continues to be overlooked as the Scotland Bill passes through Parliament.

As a Centre for Cities report shows, this lack of focus on city devolution is becoming an increasingly urgent concern for businesses in Glasgow and other Scottish cities. The report (published in association with Glasgow-based law firm TLT) features YouGov polling of around 100 business leaders from a broad range of firms and industries in Scotland. It reveals that the majority of business leaders want local government leaders to have more control over local tax rates, housing and transport, and believe that further devolution would help their businesses to thrive.

However, there is also concern among business leaders that devolution to Scottish cities is not happening quickly or deeply enough, and frustration over the lack of clarity around the Scottish Parliament’s plans to address this issue.

Alongside the polling, we carried out in-depth interviews with a host of Glasgow-based businesses about their views on devolution. Again, there was a clear consensus that giving local city leaders more control over the key issues that affect the city’s economy would enable local leaders to create a better environment for businesses to thrive in, and for people to live in.

However, a common complaint among business leaders is that there has been a lack of communication from Holyrood about what happens next in terms of city devolution. This was also reflected in the YouGov survey, with four out of five business leaders saying they’d received little or no consultation from politicians about their views on how more devolution would help their firms to grow.

Glasgow, of course, secured a city devolution deal last year, giving local leaders more control over skills and employment, as well as a £1 billion investment for major infrastructure and regeneration projects. It was an ambitious deal, similar to those recently agreed by English cities such as Sheffield, Liverpool and Birmingham.

In contrast to those places, Glasgow’s deal did not include the introduction of a metro mayor and has not been expanded further since it was announced 15 months ago; unlike Manchester, for example, which has gained extensive new powers since first securing its devolution deal last year.

The fear among Scottish businesses is that devolution beyond Holyrood has stalled at the point of Glasgow agreeing its city deal, and that the Scotland Bill will not address this issue. As Manchester gains more of the powers it needs to strengthen its economy, and other major UK cities catch up, there is real concern that Glasgow and other places in Scotland will struggle to compete unless Holyrood is willing to give local leaders greater say over decisions about public spending.

The reality is that moving power from one centralised parliament in Westminster to another in Edinburgh doesn’t go far enough. A one-size-fits-all approach from Holyrood is not going to help Scotland’s diverse and dynamic cities to grow, nor to improve the quality of life of their residents.

It’s vital that politicians from all parties in Scotland make city devolution a top priority in the years ahead – by giving Glasgow more of the powers it need to improve its economy, and by extending these powers to other places in Scotland as well. Failing to do so could mean Scottish cities will fall behind other places in the UK – and Scottish citizens and businesses will continue to miss out on the benefits city devolution would bring.

Alexandra Jones is Chief Executive of the think tank Centre for Cities.