Greater Manchester has agreed an historic settlement with the Government which will give greater powers to the combined authority in partnership with a directly elected Mayor.
The agreement was reached with Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, who recently called for a "Northern Powerhouse" to maximise the economic potential of the north.
Devolution will replace what the council described as "an over-centralised national model – imposing 'one size fits all' solutions" with greater local control over certain budgets and powers such as public transport investment.
Under the settlement, a directly elected Mayor for Greater Manchester will be created who will act as the 11th member of the Combined Authority, alongside 10 local council leaders. The elections are expected to take place in 2017. The role will merge with the existing Police & Crime Commissioner's position.
Powers to be devolved to Greater Manchester include:
- Transport – Responsibility for local transport, with the Government providing a longer-term budget to enable a co-ordinated transport strategy. There is also plans for a franchising of bus services and an Oyster card-style smart ticketing system to be used across the region.
- Planning – Devolved planning freedoms, including the power to create a statutory spatial strategy, in line with the framework already being developed by GMCA.
- Housing – Control of a new housing investment fund of up to £300m to deliver an additional 15,000 homes across Greater Manchester over a 10-year period.
Additional freedoms which will be devolved Greater Manchester's £100m back to work schemes budget, the region's total health and social care spend, and the skills budget.
As part of the devolution deal, George Osborne was in Manchester today to officially open the Manchester Airport Metrolink line, and announce a £350m extension to Trafford Park. This will be funded through the GMCA's earn back from investment in other infrastructure improvements.
Lord Peter Smith, chairman of GMCA, said: "Make no mistake, this devolution settlement is a momentous day for Greater Manchester. It gives us greater control over our own destiny in several key areas and the ability to base decisions on local priorities and needs rather than on 'one size fits all' dictates from Westminster.
"This isn't about taking powers from individual Greater Manchester authorities. It's about powers coming down from central government to a more localised level."
Greater Manchester and the Government will now work together to progress the implementation of the agreement, taking it through each local authority and public consultation.