Whitehall devolves power to GMCA as part of ‘Northern Powerhouse’ scheme

Greater Manchester will gain significant decision-making powers from Whitehall after chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne and leaders of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) signed a devolution agreement today. 

By Sarah.Aston

03 Nov 2014

A new, directly elected mayor of Greater Manchester will be responsible for decisions over transport, housing, planning and policing under the agreement, which marked the first steps towards creating a ‘Northern Powerhouse’.

The mayor’s responsibilities will include control over a £300m Housing Investment Fund, responsibility for a transport budget and multi-year settlement to be agreed at the next Spending Review, responsibility for introducing integrated smart ticketing, and powers over strategic planning.

Further powers will be devolved from Whitehall to the GMCA over support for business growth, skills and help to join up health and social care budgets.

The GMCA will also have the opportunity to be a joint commissioner with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on the next phase of the Work Programme.

Osborne said: “This is a massive moment for the north of England and our plan to build the Northern Powerhouse.

“I want to talk to other cities who are keen to follow Manchester’s lead — every city is different, and no model of local power will be the same.”

Greater Manchester is the first city to be awarded greater devolution from Whitehall and the government is preparing legislation to enable these changes with the potential for the mayoral election to take place in 2017.

Lord Peter Smith, chair of GMCA, said: “Make no mistake, this devolution settlement is a momentous moment 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.”

Communities secretary Eric Pickles said: “This landmark agreement shows how serious we are about moving powers out of Whitehall and reinforces the significant authority and finance already given to local communities.”


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