Greater Manchester Combined Authority set to reject latest devolution deal

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The Greater Manchester Combined Authority is set to reject the latest devolution deal it has been offered by Boris Johnson’s government, it has emerged.

The latest offer from Whitehall to seven Metro Mayors in Birmingham, Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, North of Tyne, Tees Valley and West of England proposes a ‘leveling-up of powers’ to those enjoyed by GM Mayor Andy Burnham.

Since signing the first devolution deal in 2014, Greater Manchester has always had more powers than other combined authorities. These include planning powers which enable the GMCA to draw up spatial development plans, powers over health & social care and powers around apprenticeship grants for employees.

As a result, the latest devolution attempt appears to offer very little to GMCA and Sir Richard Leese in his role as Deputy Mayor for Greater Manchester has already pushed back.

The GMCA is asking for additional powers over transport and skills, with local politicians especially keen to gain more control of rail services and infrastructure, as well as more control over housing benefit.

With devolution set to form part of all the main parties election manifestos, this latest attempt appears to be the first salvo from the Conservatives following Boris Johnson’s visit to the Convention of the North in September 2019, where he proposed ‘proper devolution’ for combined authorities across the North.

How the other parties respond remains to be seen.

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