Devolution deal for Greater Manchester welcomed by local leaders - but what will it mean?

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham says the new devolution deal will bring change further and faster thane ever before Credit: PA Images

Political leaders across Greater Manchester have greeted a new devolution deal with the government as the most significant yet.

Announced after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt delivered his budget speech on Wednesday, it's being hailed as taking the city region further and faster than it's ever been before.

But what could it mean for more than two million people who live there?

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority says there will be a major impact on skills and employment, with the deal giving business and education the ability to transform the area into the UK’s first technical education city-region.

It will be brought about through the creation of an integrated skills system linked to the labour market and with pathways into good jobs.

Adult education will benefit, with greater control over non-apprenticeship adult skills and grant funding.

It's hoped Manchester Metrolink will become part of a more integrated system. Credit: PA Images

As one of the major travel hubs of the region Greater Manchester's transport system is also a daily concern to thousands of people. The Combined Authority says the new devolution deal will enable them to deliver improvements across the board.

Taking London as its model, it plans a new integrated public transport system which combines bus, Metrolink, rail, and cycle hire services in the Bee Network.

It will aim to improve services, with simpler fares and integrated ticketing resulting in a system to rival the capital by 2030.

The Authority says that the devolution deal will also give them greater power to scrutinise performance, and improved legal powers to help Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) to effectively tackle anti-social behaviour and fare evasion on the bus network.

It says it will also strengthen its hand in securing finance to improve travel.

The GMCA says that it has ambitions to build on the ongoing building boom in the area and that the new devolution agreement will help them do that in a variety of ways.

It will increase its ability to build homes, tackle the poorer quality homes across the city-region, and spread the benefits of regeneration further across the area. With £150 million of brownfield funding being devolved to GMCA it will drive placemaking, housing, commercial development and urban regeneration.

In addition its planned to use greater influence under the deal to improve the provision of affordable homes, and help improve provision for the homeless.

The new devolved powers could help improve housing provision. Credit: PA Images

But change comes at a cost, and the GMCA says that improved devolution will bring its funding to a model similar to that enjoyed by devolved governments in Scotland and Wales, uniting into a system that hitherto has been more fragmented.

Giving the Authority more autonomy, a single settlement will give local government in Greater Manchester the ability to make decisions locally in tune with local needs, and improve accountability.

The Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham says “While we didn’t get everything we wanted from the Deal, we will continue to engage with 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.”

The deal will be subject to a statutory public consultation which will go live in the summer. 

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