Today, Tuesday 3 November, marks a year to the day since Greater Manchester’s groundbreaking devolution deal with Government was signed.
The anniversary provides an opportunity to reflect on what has been accomplished in the last 365 days as well as the challenges that lie ahead – and what difference devolution is making to the people and businesses of Greater Manchester.
Tony Lloyd, Interim Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “One year in, it’s understandable that devolution still feels remote to many Greater Manchester people and businesses who may wonder what positive difference it is making to their lives.
“But we’ve come a huge distance in the last year, are already starting to see some of the dividends and will continue to make dramatic progress in the years ahead.
“Let’s be clear on this. Devolution is neither an extra layer of government nor powers being taken away from individual councils. What it is doing is moving decision-making in certain key areas from London to Greater Manchester – enabling us to tailor those decisions to local needs and priorities.
“I’m confident that people will increasingly see real differences – whether it’s better transport, better health or better support in finding or progressing in work.”
Councillor Sean Anstee, Vice Chair of Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) said: ‘It is hard to believe we are one year in since the signing of the Greater Manchester Agreement which signalled the largest shift of power from Whitehall to a local area in a generation. Already, there are some notable achievements where we have been able to demonstrate that devolved, local decision making is producing better outcomes for the population and businesses of Greater Manchester.
There is still a lot to achieve, but collectively we are working across the city-region to ensure all parts of it are able to benefit from economic growth and reformed public services. The Greater Manchester strategy should mean something to everyone, and we are determined to make that happen.’
Councillor Sue Derbyshire, Vice Chair of GMCA, said: “In a single year we have seen the opportunity for the Councils in GM to take greater control or influence over decisions that affect our residents and we are looking to build on that start and do more locally. The Combined Authority is the way for all 10 Councils to negotiate this but the real difference will be in the local areas. We now need to make sure residents can through their own Council see the benefits and have their say on our work to deliver support for individuals, families and businesses.”
Sir Richard Leese, Vice Chair of Greater Manchester Combined Authority, said: “There is clear evidence from around the world that cities which are empowered to shape their own destinies are the most successful, allowing their people and businesses to thrive.
“But the UK has become one of the most centralised countries in Europe. Greater Manchester has long pressed the case for greater freedom and it’s encouraging how much progress has been made, both in securing the devolution deal and since. I’m confident we are building firm foundations for a brighter future for the 2.7 million people who live in this area.”
Key developments since 3 November include:
HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE
A pioneering agreement on health and social care integration, meaning that from April 2016 the region will control its entire health and social care budget (currently worth around £6bn a year) unlocking huge potential to improve the region’s health.
Already no decision on health and social care in Greater Manchester is now being taken without the active involvement of Greater Manchester. A strategic partnership board, which will bring together 38 organisations delivering health and social care to oversee decision-making, has been established in shadow form and met for the first time last week.
An agreement between the NHS, Public Health England and Greater Manchester has created a single leadership vision for public health – prevention and early intervention work to stop people becoming ill in the first place.
The creation of Health Innovation Manchester – a partnership of research, academic and industry leaders – to accelerate the development of innovative new treatments and their benefits to residents.
The extension of seven-day access to GP and other primary care for patients across the whole of Greater Manchester by the end of this year.
Government has committed to providing a multi-year transport settlement to enable better planning and a more co-ordinated transport strategy.
A Buses Bill will give Greater Manchester the power to franchise bus services – ensuring they provide the best possible service for customers and support Greater Manchester’s economic growth.
The ability to examine options to take increased responsibility for rail stations in Greater Manchester.
GMCA is overseeing the largest transport investment programme outside London. New powers to control an ‘earn back’ budget of around £30million over a 30 year period are enabling key schemes such as the extension of Metrolink to Trafford Park to be brought forward.
JOBS AND INVESTMENT
The Greater Manchester Investment Fund has seen almost £150m of funding loaned to Greater Manchester businesses, supporting and creating 6,188 jobs since 2013.
Other business support services have helped create around 5,000 jobs and safeguard almost 3,500 more.
Greater Manchester has gained greater influence over skills training provision – giving greater scope to ensure the skill gained by its people match the jobs being created in a thriving area – with a commitment from the government to explore further increasing this.
The Working Well scheme, launched last year, has already helped 160 long-term unemployed people to overcome their barriers and gain a permanent job through intensive one-to-one support. Scaling up this approach will ultimately help 50,000 Greater Manchester residents back towards employment.
PLANNING AND HOUSING
Work is progressing well on the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework, a plan to identify the land needed to meet current and future growth needs, especially for housing and business space. A consultation on its vision and growth options will be launched next week.
Greater Manchester Housing Fund is helping address the area’s need for extra housing. It has already awarded £66m of funding to deliver more than 1,000 new homes.
An Interim Mayor was appointed in June to provide strategic leadership and work alongside Greater Manchester’s 10 council leaders, senior officers and other organisations to pave the way for the creation of a directly-elected Mayor who will have a range of new powers from 2017 subject to the passage of the Devolution Bill which is currently going through Parliament. The Mayor will be accountable to voters at the ballot box.
From 2017, the Mayor will also take responsibility for overseeing the work of Greater Manchester Police and Greater Manchester Fire Service – helping emergency services to work better together.
GMCA will continue to press the case for further freedoms and flexibilities where these will help deliver the Greater Manchester Strategy, Stronger Together, for a thriving economy and self-reliant population.
These include greater fiscal devolution, so that more of the money collected as taxes in the region stays in the region to spend on services here.