Manchester City Council

New Powers to Greater Manchester

A rather longer blog than usual. Yesterday Greater Manchester Leaders signed an agreement with central government for the biggest transfer of power from central to local any of us will have ever witnessed, taking powers from a remote and inefficient Whitehall so that more decisions effecting Greater Manchester are taken in Greater Manchester by local elected representatives. I'm not going to comment further today though may do later in the week. For the time being I leave you with a summary of the agreement set out below.

Summary of Devolution Agreement, New Powers to the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Transition to an Elected Mayor for Greater Manchester


Greater Manchester has been working together on areas such as economic development and transport for nearly 30 years. It was the first place in the country to adopt the model of a Combined Authority and lead the way in new forms of financial devolution through the ground-breaking Greater Manchester earn back model, part of the City Deal.

The city region has long argued that working together drives economic growth. This approach has been given increasing credence both internationally and more recently nationally. The Chancellor has called for a Northern Powerhouse to maximise the economic potential of the north. The World Bank and others have highlighted for some years now the link between successful city growth and national economic progress. More recently in the UK, the City Growth Commission has highlighted why this is an issue not just for developing economies but for the UK as well. Cities around the world are driving the global economy; English cities have a greater role to play in driving our economy with Greater Manchester at the heart of a Northern Powerhouse.

This is why the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and the Government have created this deal, the first in the UK outside of London, to deliver increased economic growth and improved public services. Doing this in practice will require Greater Manchester to build on and extend the role of the Combined Authority to which existing Government functions will be devolved. It will also introduce a new elected Mayor who will work as part of the Combined Authority with responsibility for new devolved powers and resources.

Local authorities in Greater Manchester will retain all of their existing powers but this devolutionary agreement will provide additional tools to create high quality places where people choose to live, work and do business and to reform the way that public services are delivered to improve outcomes for people.

It will create more jobs, deliver more homes and improve the connectivity of our transport networks. It will ensure that people are able to access jobs and progress through work to fulfill their potential. It will ensure that our people have the right skills so that businesses have the talent to grow. It will improve the health and social care services that people receive and help to give our children the best possible start in life.


This agreement between the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and the Government is based on a series of principles.

• Everything contained in the deal is designed to achieve higher sustainable levels of economic growth and social inclusion along with public service reform to deliver the Greater Manchester Strategy.

• Devolution is required to improve the competitiveness of the Greater Manchester economy and to reform public services.

• This agreement is not about taking away local government services but devolving down to the CityRegion the functions of Government. On the contrary, the integrity of local authorities needs to be respected.

• Neither is it about adding a new layer of governance. The model agreed between Greater Manchester and the government builds on the Greater Manchester model of integrated governance.

• The agreement is based on a road map which is needed to create the conditions for both devolution of powers and changes in governance.

This deal is not the end of a process but the beginning of a new way of working and through which, over time, Greater Manchester will continue to press for the devolution of further powers and resources: the long term ambition is for Greater Manchester to take more control of public spending.


1. An appointed Mayor as the 11th member of the Combined Authority will be put in place as soon as the necessary parliamentary procedure to amend the Combined Authority Order has been passed.

2. The Government will bring forward legislation to create the role of a directly elected Mayor (which will also take on the role currently covered by the police and Crime Commissioner) which it is anticipated will be in place by 2017. The Mayor will be the Chair of the Combined Authority and the Cabinet with the 10 Leaders having portfolios of responsibility allocated by the Mayor. The Mayor will receive newly devolved powers on transport, housing and planning.

3. The devolution of some new responsibilities is possible without legislation and those will be passed to the Greater Manchester Combined Authority now.

4. The rest of the powers, funding for large strategic projects post 2016/17 and future funding from the revised Earnback deal will be conditional on Greater Manchester implementing the city region Mayor model.

5. There is the opportunity to agree further devolution in the months and years ahead.


Devolution brings decisions closer to the places where they matter and will make a difference to people’s lives by driving economic growth and improving the way that services are delivered for all those who live and work in Greater Manchester. It includes the following components:


A revised "Earnback" deal that enables Greater Manchester to retain a greater proportion of the additional tax revenue that will be generated as a result of additional local investment in infrastructure. The complex formula will be removed in order to give Greater Manchester more control and certainty over the future funding stream. This deal is worth £900 million over 30 years and will allow Greater Manchester to deliver the Trafford Park Metrolink extension.


Responsibility for a devolved and joined up transport budget, with a multi-year settlement to be agreed at the next Spending Review. Other powers will include responsibility for franchised bus services (including powers over fares, routes, frequency and ticketing), the ability to shape local rail station policy and development across Greater Manchester and the introduction of integrated smart ticketing across all modes of local transport. The agreement will also bring better joint working with the Highways Agency to determine shared priorities for our strategic and key road networks that take account of both local and national priorities.


Powers to address the mismatch between the supply of skills and the needs of business to ensure that people have the skills required to fulfil business needs today and (through access to the Apprenticeship Grants) provide the talent for the future forecasted growth industries in Greater Manchester. This will include working with Government and its agencies through a re-commissioning process to reshape and restructure further education provision within Greater Manchester by incentivising skills providers (including the ability to influence appropriate pricing mechanisms) to match their educational offer to the skills needs of Greater Manchester.

Business Support

Current business support arrangements make it difficult to join up national, local, public and private business support services - meaning that businesses struggle to access the right support at the right time to help them grow and innovate. This devolution agreement will give Greater Manchester responsibility for business support budgets across GM, including the Growth Accelerator, Manufacturing Advice Service and UKTI Export Advice providing a fully integrated service.


The agreement includes creation of a £300 million Housing Investment Fund to accelerate the delivery of housing to provide up to 15,000 additional homes over 10 years. The fund will be recyclable. It will generate a return on investment that can be re-invested, maximising the impact of the fund.


GM will also be given the power to create a statutory spatial strategy for the city region. This reinforces the approach already taken by Greater Manchester. We are already consulting on a Spatial Framework to enable us to manage land in the most effective way to maximise our growth and development potential.

Public Service Reform: complex dependency

Fragmented, inefficient and poorly sequenced public services leave too many people trapped in a cycle of dependency, unable to access and progress through work and improve their lives. The agreement will enable the scaling up of the work already being done to address complex dependency and help 50,000 people who have struggled to find work get into jobs. Greater Manchester will become a co-commissioner for the next phase of the Work Programme. Proposals for a new pilot will also be developed that will focus on helping over 55 years old with long-term health conditions back into work.

Public Service Reform: early years

A further Early Years pilot will see Government working with Greater Manchester to improve the school readiness and attainment of children, ensuring they are given the best possible start in life.

Public Service Reform: health and social care

The Agreement promotes the development of an integrated health and social care strategy through pooling health and social care budgets across Greater Manchester, to reduce the pressure on A&E and avoid hospital stays. A Business Plan will be produced working with NHS stakeholders and with agreement with Greater Manchester Commissioning Groups to facilitate joined-up services and new primary and community facilities.


The GMCA will remain responsible, and receive additional powers, for business support, skills, complex dependency and health and social care. On public service issues the GMCA members and the Mayor will each have one vote, and policy will be agreed by a majority vote.

The directly-elected Mayor will be responsible for the new powers in relation to transport, planning, housing and policing, although will be required to consult the GMCA Cabinet on his/her strategies, which the Cabinet may reject if two-thirds of members agree to do so. The GMCA Cabinet will also examine the Mayor’s spending plans and will be able to amend those plans, again if two-thirds of the members agree to do so. The statutory spatial framework will require approval by a unanimous vote of the Mayor’s Cabinet.

The Mayor and the GMCA Cabinet will be scrutinised and held to account by the Scrutiny Pool.

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The blog of the leader of Manchester City Council, Councillor Richard Leese.

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