Lord Smith demands ‘bite’ for Manchester city-region

Greater Manchester's proposed new city-region status must arrive from Government with 'some teeth' or it will be pointless, Lord Peter Smith, chairman of the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities, told the House of Lords.

Lord Smith, leader of Wigan council, said the region would abandon plans for the statutory city-region if ministers did not keep their promise to hand over real powers over funding from Whitehall.

The establishment of the Greater Manchester 'cabinet', under the Government's Economic Prosperity Board programme, could be announced in April's Budget by Alistair Darling.

EPBs will combine councils to share greater control over transport, employment, housing, planning and economic development.

Regional politicians and civil servants fear that power will remain with centralised departments and the freedoms to be enjoyed by EPBs will extend to administrative and not policy-making aspects of funding.

Lord Smith said there 'would be no point' in such an arrangement. He added: "If we want to tackle worklessness, we need to get hold of the powers and budgets that the Learning and Skills Council and Jobcentre Plus have."

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