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Fourth Greater Manchester devolution agreement announced in Budget

16/03/2016

Fourth Greater Manchester devolution agreement announced in Budget

Further devolution to Greater Manchester, announced as part of the UK Government’s Budget, has been welcomed by Greater Manchester leaders. 

A key feature of this fourth devolution agreement is that Greater Manchester will be a pilot for the approach to 100% business rates retention. 

Greater Manchester’s ground-breaking pilot scheme will help to develop the mechanisms that will be needed to manage risk and reward under 100% rates retention and help authorities build financial capacity to reform core services and invest in long-term economic growth from 2017 – three years ahead of schedule.

This comes as part of the Government’s commitment to delivering 100% business rates retention for local authorities in England by the end of this Parliament. 

100% business rates retention will see authorities given an incentive to grow local tax bases by ensuring they see long-term rewards from growth. GM local authorities will be able to retain any growth in business rates income to invest in projects designed to secure further economic growth, providing a predictable income stream against which local Leaders can take long-term investment decisions.

Changes to criminal justice, investment, adult skills and housing are also amongst the other measures detailed in this fourth devolution agreement between Greater Manchester leaders and the UK Government. 

New measures announced include:

Life Chances Investment Fund

Government and Greater Manchester will jointly establish a Life Chances Investment Fund from April 2017, bringing together and aligning funding from several budgets including the Troubled Families Programme, Working Well pilot and the Cabinet Office Life Chances Fund to enable Greater Manchester to increase investment in innovative approaches to delivering public services. 

The Fund will allow the Greater Manchester Leaders to use public money more efficiently and effectively to deliver better services and improve the lives of GM residents.

A Single Pot

Greater Manchester will also have the power to establish a single pot for investment in economic growth, pooling transport funding with Local Growth Funding and the £30m per annum investment fund established as part of Greater Manchester’s “earn back” deal.

Criminal Justice

Another key aspect of this devolution deal that will Greater Manchester make more decisions in Greater Manchester is around aspects of criminal justice. Greater Manchester will take on a greater role in the delivery of criminal justice services within Greater Manchester. Additional responsibilities include greater involvement in the commissioning of offender management services, greater influence over education provision in prisons and joint work with Government to better align delivery of services for youth offenders. 

Greater Manchester has secured greater influence over funding to support the victims of crime and will work with Government to explore how other budgets could be devolved, including the custody budgets for female offenders, young offenders and those sentenced to less than 2 years in prison.

GM will also work with Government to create a modern new prison estate and will have greater involvement in future plans for the local courts estate.

Adult Skills

The Government and Greater Manchester agreed at the 2015 Spending Review/Autumn Statement to undertake further analysis to ensure the adult skills provision meets the needs of the Greater Manchester economy.

Following successful negotiations, from 2016/17 the Government will work with Greater Manchester to ensure that skills provision better achieves the outcomes needed locally and, from 2018/19, the 19+ adult skills budget will be devolved in full. 

Housing

Greater Manchester leaders have welcomed the Government’s agreement to consider GM’s business case for a Land Programme to bring forward development on brownfield sites following the production of Greater Manchester’s draft Spatial Framework in Autumn 2016.

The Government will also work with Greater Manchester to allow GM to pursue innovative approaches to delivering social housing for its citizens and will discuss with GM the level of resources required to enable GM to maximise the quantity and choice of housing available to all and to create neighbourhoods that will attract and retain the diverse labour market required to support the growth objectives of Greater Manchester and the Northern Powerhouse. 

Regulation

The Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership, the Growth Hub and Combined Authority will work with Government to develop a strategic approach to regulation of businesses, building on the Better Business for All national programme.

Interim Greater Manchester Mayor and Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd said: “This is another significant step forward in Greater Manchester’s ambition to take power from Whitehall and put it in the hands of local people.

“In particular, I am pleased that Greater Manchester will take on a greater role in shaping and delivering criminal justice services and have greater influence over funding to support victims of crime. Greater Manchester has already proven itself committed and capable of transforming local justice and rehabilitation services. Our whole system approach to working with women offenders, for example, has been held up nationally for bringing together police, probation, health and other agencies with the voluntary sector to tackle underlying issues of reoffending.

“Today’s announcement is an excellent start in building on this work and achieving our ambition around criminal justice. I look forward to working with the government over the next 12 months to ensure decisions about local justice are made here in Greater Manchester for the benefit of our citizens.”

Councillor Kieran Quinn, GMCA Lead member for Investment, Strategy and Finance said: “It is clear that Greater Manchester continues to lead the way when it comes to devolution in England. As one of the first regions to retain 100% of business rates, our challenge is to show how this can help us create sustainable long-term growth locally and I am confident we will. 

“I also welcome the establishment of the Life Chances Investment Fund.  This will allow us to use public money more effectively to deliver services and improve lives in Greater Manchester, something that our successful Working Well programme shows we have a track record of doing where Government programmes have stalled.”

Sir Richard Leese, Vice-Chair of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, said: “Devolution is about giving local leaders the power to make decisions that improve their communities. This fourth devolution agreement is an important step along the road map to giving Greater Manchester control or influence over all public spending in Greater Manchester.

“The Government recognises that in Greater Manchester we will make better decisions over investment, housing, skills and deliver a stronger economy. We have established the direction of travel and this agreement is another move in the right direction.”