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Agreement reached over devolution of powers to GMCA and directly-elected Greater Manchester mayor

Out-Law News | 03 Nov 2014 | 4:53 pm | 1 min. read

Agreement has been reached between Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and the UK treasury, paving the way for the devolution of powers to a new Greater Manchester mayor. The new powers will include increased control over planning and housing in the area.

Statements from the UK government and the GMCA confirmed that an agreement was finalised this morning, providing for the introduction of a new, directly elected mayor for the Greater Manchester area as soon as 2017.

The powers granted to the new mayor will include planning freedoms, such as "the power to create a statutory spatial strategy ... which will guide investment and development across Greater Manchester", the GMCA statement said. A spatial strategy created using this power "will need to be approved by a unanimous vote of the mayor's cabinet", the Government has confirmed.

The mayor will also have control over a new 'Housing Investment Fund' under the agreement, giving it access to £300 million which the GMCA has said "will deliver an additional 15,000 homes across Greater Manchester over a 10-year period". Other powers to be granted to the new mayor will include responsibility for a transport budget for the area and taking on the role of the current Police and Crime Commissioner.

The GMCA will also receive powers under the agreement, including "the power to re-shape and re-structure the further education provision within Greater Manchester" and the opportunity to "develop a business plan for the integration of health and social care across Greater Manchester, based on control of existing health and social care budgets", the Government said.

"Make no mistake, this devolution settlement is a momentous moment for Greater Manchester," said GMCA chair Lord Peter Smith in a statement. "It gives us greater control over our 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".

Vice chair of the GMCA Sir Richard Leese said: "We are extremely pleased that we can now demonstrate what a city region with greater freedoms can achieve and contribute further to the growth of the UK. Our ultimate ambition is for full devolution of all public spending in Greater Manchester, currently around £22 billion a year, so that we either influence or control the whole amount."

The Government said that it would prepare legislation to enable the changes, with "the potential for the mayoral election to take place in 2017".