Further devolution to Greater Manchester, along with a commitment from Government to work together with the GMCA on a number of innovative policy initiatives, was announced yesterday.
The measures were announced as part of the Spending Review, in which the Government also reaffirmed its support for the integration of health and social care across Greater Manchester.
The new measures are:
GMCA will work with social housing providers and the government to explore how social housing could be used more effectively to help people to become home owners. The work will also examine how Greater Manchester’s social housing stock could be used to better support GM’s public service reform programme.
The Government has invited Greater Manchester to develop a business case for a Land Programme, to be overseen by the GM Land Commission, which would speed up the remediation and development of strategic housing and employment sites to deliver more new homes and jobs for Greater Manchester.
Subject to legislation the Government will give the Greater Manchester Mayor the power from 2017 to implement a Community Infrastructure Levy to support development and regeneration in the area. Such a levy would require the unanimous approval of all 10 Greater Manchester local authority leaders.
The Government has restated its commitment to improving transport connectivity between Greater Manchester and other northern city regions and has asked the new Infrastructure Commission chaired by Lord Adonis to provide advice on investment priorities for the North to drive economic growth and help realise ambitions for a Northern Powerhouse.
The Government will work with GM to ensure that the transparency of funding necessary to support the franchising of bus services is in place.
The Government has agreed to consider Greater Manchester’s proposals for a joint investment platform to improve the condition and resilience of the area’s highways network.
The Government has also re-stated its commitment to work with Greater Manchester to explore options for greater control of the area’s rail stations.
Government has confirmed that – subject to legislation, the approval of the GMCA cabinet and the agreement of the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership – the Mayor will have the power to introduce a Business Rates Supplement to support additional investment aimed at promoting the economic development of local areas.
GMCA will agree a Memorandum of Understanding with the British Business Bank setting out how they will work together to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Greater Manchester which need finance and support to grow their businesses.
This will complement the GMCA’s existing schemes to support growing businesses.
PUBLIC SERVICE REFORM/SERVICES FOR CHILDREN
Government and Greater Manchester will work together to develop more flexible ways of investing in innovative approaches to the delivery of public services, including consideration of the establishment of a Public Service Reform Investment Fund.
In July, the Government and Greater Manchester local authorities agreed to review the way services for children are delivered and to explore how more integrated and efficient ways of doing things could be achieved. As a trailblazer for the reform of children’s services, the Government will support GMCA to develop and implement an integrated approach to preventative services for children and young people by April 2017. This includes ensuring that health, criminal justice and other services delivered by individual local authorities are more closely aligned.
GMCA will carry out an analysis of all post-19 skills provision, working with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Government and Greater Manchester will work together to ensure that the Area Review of further education provision across the city region results in local outcomes agreements which meet the economic and educational priorities of GMCA and the Local Enterprise Partnership.
Government will also work with Greater Manchester to examine how the outcomes from 16-18 vocational training and commissioning of 19+ adults skills provision can be better aligned.
The GMCA and government agree to work together to encourage and support employers to create more apprenticeships, including the use of apprentices by Greater Manchester public services.
The Government has stated its commitment to working with Greater Manchester to consider how the design and delivery of national policies and programmes can be better aligned and integrated to support delivery of Greater Manchester’s priorities.
There will be discussion on further areas for co-operation including energy efficiency, community energy and business energy tax reform.
The Government has re-affirmed its commitment to work with Greater Manchester to jointly commission programmes to help the long-term unemployed, including those with health conditions and disabilities, into work.
SCIENCE AND INNOVATION
The Government has committed to ensuring the opportunity for the distinctive strengths and assets of GM to be recognised through the forthcoming national Science and Innovation Audit process.
Confirmation that the GMCA will secure greater influence and decision-making powers over 415m Euros worth of European funding to ensure it is aligned with local priorities and maximise the benefits to Greater Manchester’s economy.
Tony Lloyd, interim Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “I strongly welcome the recommitment from both sides to deliver real change to how decisions about Greater Manchester are taken. Decisions about people in Greater Manchester and Greater Manchester are best made here and today’s announcement is another step in that journey.
“We are bound to continue to press government on resourcing so that we can ensure that communities across Greater Manchester get the services and investment they deserve.”
Sir Richard Leese, Vice Chair of Greater Manchester Combined Authority, said: “Devolution to Greater Manchester’s is about shifting influence and decision-making to local Leaders better placed respond to the city-region’s priorities and needs, delivering better outcomes and better value for our residents and businesses.
“Whether that’s investing in the services or infrastructure we need to drive improvements and ensure that Greater Manchester have the skills which match the jobs being created – benefiting employees and employers alike – the measures announced today are another step in that incremental journey.”
Councillor Sean Anstee, Vice Chair of GMCA, said: “The announcement today of further devolution of powers is welcome and demonstrates the on-going commitment of Government to this cause and enables Greater Manchester to look at new areas where local decision making will make a positive difference.
“Whether it is enhanced transport, energy and science commitments, integrated services for children or a joined up skills and employment system, this announcement, coupled with those over the last year mean the foundations have been laid for stronger, more prosperous Greater Manchester to benefit our residents and businesses across the city-region. ”
Councillor Sue Derbyshire, Vice Chair of GMCA, said: “While local government is facing the challenge of further spending reductions, the 10 Greater Manchester councils are working together to make sure we can maintain growth and services to residents. The devolution agreements with Government are a major step towards this and these extra announcements take us further.”
The text of the latest devolution agreement can be viewed in full at http://www.greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk/devolution_november2015