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Government adopts ResPublica plans for City Devolution

14th May 2015

ResPublica has long argued that devolving powers to new and emerging city regions and combined authorities will have the capacity to change and transform their social and economic environment. We have argued that this will be essential if cities are to deliver on the twin objectives of growth and reform.

Our work over the past year built upon the central tenet that only by devolving power to City Regions will we see a rebalancing of the UK’s economy, spreading prosperity to regions left out in the cold by the focus on London and the South East:

Devo Max – Devo Manc: Place-based public services (September ’14)

Restoring Britain’s City States: Devolution, public service reform and local economic growth (February ’15)

Power, People and Places: A Manifesto for devolution to Britain’s Key Cities (May ’15)

In a groundbreaking speech in central Manchester on Thursday 14th May 2015, where a year before he set out his ambitious Northern Powerhouse vision, the Chancellor George Osbourne made it clear that this is a One Nation Government that will act in the interests of the whole country with the Metro-Mayor plans at the heart of an economic recovery for every part of the nation. In his speech, he announced that the Government’s Queen’s Speech will set out new powers.

In response to the announcement, Phillip Blond, author of ResPublica’s work on devolution and architect of the City Devolution plans, wrote in the Telegraph, and appeared on BBC News, Radio 5 Live, LBC, BBC Radio Merseyside.

It’s time to unleash the power of the North
Daily Telegraph article by Phillip Blond

A strategy of devolution for the whole of the North – not just the favoured cities – would bring the home of the industrial revolution back to life

A new, directly elected Mayor of Greater Manchester will receive the following powers:

  • Responsibility for a devolved and consolidated transport budget, with a multi-year settlement to be agreed at the next Spending Review.
  • Responsibility for franchised bus services (subject to consultation by Greater Manchester), for integrating smart ticketing across all local modes of transport, and urgently exploring the opportunities for devolving rail stations across the Greater Manchester area.
  • Powers over strategic planning, including the power to create a statutory spatial framework for Greater Manchester. This will need to be approved by a unanimous vote of the Mayor’s Cabinet.
  • Control of a new £300 million Housing Investment Fund.
  • Control of a reformed earn back deal, within the current envelope of £30 million a year for 30 years. Take on the role currently covered by the Police and Crime Commissioner.

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) will receive the following powers:

  • Responsibility for devolved business support budgets, including the Growth Accelerator, Manufacturing Advice Service and UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) Export Advice.
  • Control of the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers in Greater Manchester and power to re-shape and re-structure the Further Education (FE) provision within Greater Manchester.
  • Control of an expanded Working Well pilot, with central government funding linked to good performance up to a fixed DEL limit in return for risk sharing.
  • Opportunity to be a joint commissioner with Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for the next phase of the Work Programme.
  • GMCA and Greater Manchester Clinical Commissioning Groups will be invited 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.

Further powers may be agreed over time and included in future legislation

15.05.2015 The Times


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