GM leaders Budget MIPIM

From left: Eamonn Boylan, Paul Dennett, Joanne Roney and Mike Emmerich reacting to the budget on Wednesday. Credit: PNW

MIPIM | GM welcomes ‘deeper devo’ powers in Budget

MIPIM coverage sponsored by Together‘A good day for Greater Manchester’ – that was the verdict of Eamonn Boylan, chief executive of the combined authority, reacting to a significant update to the city region’s devolution deal, unveiled in Jeremy Hunt’s speech.

The Manchester stand hosted a briefing by Joanne Roney, chief executive of Manchester City Council; Eamonn Boylan, chief executive of Greater Manchester Combined Authority; Paul Dennett, deputy mayor of Greater Manchester and mayor of Salford; moderated by Mike Emmerich, founding director of Metro Dynamics.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced a “trailblazer deeper devolution deal” for GM on Wednesday in a 65-page paper published by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to coincide with the Spring Budget.

Dennett began with a canter through some of the specifics from GM’s ‘deep devo deal’:

  • A single settlement from government, long lobbied for, but not due until the next spending review, from 2025/26. No figure set yet
  • This will merge funding streams for improved local tailoring of spend on growth, place, transport, housing, regeneration, adult skills, net zero carbon
  • Dennett said doing away with departmental silos of funding was “great news” as “engaging in all of this activity around small pots of money costs an absolute fortune”
  • Post 16 technical educational skills oversight and adult skills funding for post-19 will be devolved in the next spending review
  • New rail partnership set to be created with Great British Railways, supporting the integration of rail into the Bee Network by 2030: fares and ticketing integration across bus, Metrolink and rail in addition to joint branding and marketing of public transport
  • £150m brownfield housing fund monies over three years to help deliver 7,000 homes
  • New strategic oversight on the affordable homes programme. Five local authorities historically have been restricted from bidding to access grant for social rent, Dennett explained. “Having that flexibility now to think across all those 10 local authorities and having strategic oversight of the affordable homes programme is great news for us”
  • Housing quality pathfinder targeted at the private rented sector to tackle standards within social housing: selective licensing, a portal for landlords, quality of provision
  • GM authorities will be able to retain 100% of business rates for 10 years, “which is great news, because we’ve been literally waiting from one year to the next to know whether or not government is going to extend that for another year”
  • Government will work with GM to designate specific growth zones. If you’re a growth zone, you will get 100% business rates retention for 25 years
  • New public scrutiny session with MPs from GM sitting four times a year
  • Piloting devolving net zero funding which includes building retrofit, to the Combined Authority from 2025 onwards, and appointing Andy Burnham, Mayor for Greater Manchester, as the responsible authority to develop a local nature recovery strategy.

Boylan responded by saying that while the detailed papers from central government were still being digested by local government officers and politicians, “I think generally you have to say, it’s a good day for GM. I have to pay tribute to my team. They’ve worked really, really hard with leaders and chief executives to get to this point.”

Roney added: “GM productivity remains at 90% of the national average. And it’s been at 90% for the past 10 years. And the purpose of the devolution deal, with the extra powers, the extra funding and the leverage that we can make from that, is that government estimates that our productivity will be lifted to national average, which equates to a £8.2bn return to UK PLC.

“So, I think it’s important to remind ourselves that it isn’t just us wanting more power or funding, more glory for the city. It is genuinely about what we do with that, that adds to UK PLC.”

Place North West MIPIM 2023 coverage is sponsored by Together.

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