Greater Manchester’s Mayor and 10 Leaders have celebrated the region’s latest devolution deal with the Government as a ‘significant step forward.’
The agreement secures Greater Manchester much greater influence over crucial policy areas, embedding the role of local decision-making through additional powers, new financial freedoms and new accountability arrangements.
The deal represents a vote of confidence in devolution and Greater Manchester‘s ability to deliver.
The Mayor and Leaders have secured the majority of their requests in negotiations with the Government and are now focused on turning their ambitions into reality as English devolution enters a new era.
The Trailblazer Deal, which is the seventh devolution deal for Greater Manchester, includes several significant breakthroughs.
It gives the region the ability to create the country’s first integrated technical education city-region, enabling a new partnership board with the Department for Education to work better for young people and employers.
Greater Manchester will also have more influence on regional rail services to deliver a London-style integrated public transport system, known as the Bee Network, by 2030.
Moreover, the deal provides £150m of brownfield funding and powers to support the new Greater Manchester Good Landlord Charter, aimed at raising standards in the social and private rented sectors. Additionally, it offers a single funding settlement, similar to Scotland and Wales, which is a flexible grant given to an English region for the first time.
Devolution in Greater Manchester has shown what can be achieved when people locally are trusted to make some of the big decisions that affect the daily lives of the 2.8 million residents and 124,000 businesses. It has already resulted in bringing buses back under public control, introducing a £2 cap on adult bus fares, and taking steps to reduce rough sleeping.
The Government published its Levelling Up White Paper in February 2022, committing to deeper devolution in Greater Manchester and the West Midlands, and the Mayor and Leaders in Greater Manchester have been in negotiations since then. The new deal builds on existing responsibilities over transport, business support, employment and skills support, policing, spatial planning, housing investment and health.
With more levers at its disposal, Greater Manchester is ambitious for the future of the city region and is poised to make a bigger difference to people’s lives.
Speaking to I Love Manchester, Andy Burnham said: “This is the seventh devolution deal Greater Manchester has agreed with the government and it is by some way the deepest.
“This Deal takes devolution in the city-region further and faster than ever before,
“I have always been a passionate believer in the power of devolution, and I’ve been in the privileged position of being able to exercise those powers and make a positive difference to people’s lives.
“We’ve worked hard to secure this Deal and have achieved a significant
“With more power comes the need for great accountability and I welcome the strengthened arrangements announced in the Deal.
“While we didn’t get everything we wanted from the Deal, we will continue to engage with the government on those areas in the future. For now, our focus will be on getting ready to take on the new powers and be held to account on the decisions we will be making on behalf of the people of Greater Manchester. Today is a new era for English devolution.”
Here’s how the new devolution deal will mean for you:
Skills and employment
The Mayor and Leaders of Greater Manchester, along with business and education leaders, have been pushing for more control over skills and employment to transform the region into the UK’s first technical education city-region.
They have secured a significant breakthrough in negotiations with the government, which confirms a new partnership to provide better oversight of post-16 technical education and skills.
This joint board will bring together Greater Manchester Leaders and the Department for Education to ensure the courses available are relevant for the local jobs market and will better support people into work or change careers.
The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has already started working with partners to create a system that builds stronger links between employers, further education, and training.
The Deal also includes devolution of non-apprenticeship adult skills functions and grant funding in the next Spending Review, local flexibilities over Free Courses for Jobs and Skills Bootcamps, and a simplified single adult skills fund.
A joint board with the Department for Work and Pensions will also allow Greater Manchester and the government to provide a more responsive service to support particular groups back into employment, bringing together partners to improve provision.
Greater Manchester wants to improve public transport through the Bee Network, an integrated transport system across bus, Metrolink, rail, and cycle hire services.
The Mayor and Leaders successfully secured more responsibilities over transport in the new devolution Deal to achieve this vision, including local rail services integrated into the Bee Network by 2030.
The deal also commits to identifying legal powers to tackle anti-social behaviour and fare evasion on the bus network. Discussions with the government are ongoing to secure short-term support for financing Greater Manchester’s public transport system post-Covid, which is essential to delivering the full Bee Network vision by 2030.
Housing and regeneration
Greater Manchester has seen significant development in the past decade, with investments in new buildings and homes.
The Mayor and Leaders want to continue this progress and have secured more responsibilities and funding to improve housing and regeneration.
The new Deal provides GMCA with £150 million brownfield funding to create new communities and deliver 7000 homes in the next three years.
GMCA will also have more control over the Affordable Homes Programme, allowing them to make key decisions and work towards net zero homes. There will be a Housing Quality Pathfinder, additional funding to support homeless families, and measures to crack down on rogue landlords.
These initiatives will help to create affordable, high-quality homes and promote regeneration across the area.
The Deal means that Greater Manchester will receive a single funding settlement directly from the government for a period of time instead of having to bid for multiple funding pots.
This will give Greater Manchester more freedom to make decisions that suit their local needs.
The government has agreed that the current way of funding Mayoral Combined Authorities is fragmented and holding back the city-region. The single settlement will increase Greater Manchester’s ability to prioritize decisions and reprioritize budgets in five areas: local growth and place, local transport, housing and regeneration, adult skills, and building retrofit for decarbonization.
Greater Manchester’s Mayor and Leaders want to make sure they are accountable for decisions that affect the people and businesses in the region. As part of the Deal negotiations, they have worked to create new ways to ensure accountability.
Under the new arrangements, they will report on how well they have met agreed targets, and there will be more opportunities for existing committees and panels to scrutinize their decisions. There will also be public hearings with Greater Manchester MPs.