I said yesterday that I would do a separate post on the city deal for Manchester announced in parliament on Tuesday this week. A key requirement of dealing with the enormous cuts imposed on us by government is to grow the local economy, create jobs, and make sure Manchester people have the skills, aptitude and attitude to access those jobs. We have taken a number of concrete steps to support this, not least the creation of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, which makes us the only UK city apart from London that has a statutory authority covering pretty much the whole functional economic area with responsibilities for economic growth, regeneration and transport. We have the governance in place but we have long argued with this and the previous government that if we want to accelerate growth in the city-region then there are a number of tools we need to be able to control locally.
The city deal doesn't give us everything we want or need in this respect but is a very significant step in the right direction, not least because it sets the precedent of cutting across national programmes in favour of locally determined actions. The most innovative part of the city deal is the earn-back arrangement, effectively a tax increment financing scheme that will allow us to invest very significantly in our transport infrastructure on the basis of a share of increased tax revenues resulting from the £1.2b we are committed to invest over the next four years. Perhaps as significant though, in this age of the knowledge based economy, is the agreement that publicly funded skills expenditure in Greater Manchester, approximately £500m a year, will be targeted on locally agreed priorities and locally determined outcomes.
The deal establishes an investment fund which over time will reduce our dependency on government grant schemes, helps us fund our business growth hub, establishes a joint venture with the green investment fund, and a partnership with UKTI to increase trade and investment in relationship to the growth economies of China, India and Brazil. The deal gives us a chance to increase the number of apprenticeships on offer and in particular to support small and medium sized companies in offering apprenticeships. The deal greatly enhances our ability to support the Manchester economy, consists entirely of proposals generated in Manchester, but is only possible because of the willingness of the ten local authorities in Greater Manchester to work together in a way that you will not see anywhere else in the UK.