City region status for Greater Manchester 

18/12/09
Lord Smith and Phil Woolas signing the agreement
Lord Peter Smith, leader of Wigan Council and chair of Agma, with Phil Woolas MP, Minister of State at the Treasury and Minister for the North West signing the agreement.

A groundbreaking agreement between the 10 Greater Manchester local authorities and the Government was signed today.

The deal means that Greater Manchester will have more powers and responsibilities devolved from central government – ensuring the region has much more of a say in its own destiny.

The agreement unites the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA) behind one formal arrangement.  The pilot has been the subject of extensive discussions since the Chancellor announced the Manchester City Region pilot as part of his April Budget.

The deal recognises the role of Greater Manchester as a key focus for national growth and in helping to create the conditions for national recovery in the aftermath of the recession.

Lord Peter Smith, chair of AGMA, and Phil Woolas MP, Minister of State at the Treasury and Minister for the North West, signed the agreement at a ceremony today in Bury.

It puts the seal on a number of public sector reform measures, combined with new powers and responsibilities.

These include:

  • The Manchester City Region has been named as the UK’s fourth low carbon economic area (LCEA), the focus of which will be the built environment. Working with local, regional and national partner agencies, granting LCEA status will deliver benefits for Greater Manchester and the rest of the UK, through stimulating the wider supply chain, sharing learning and best practice with other regions.
  • New statutory powers for the city region to be able to set its own skills policy, and new freedoms to determine priorities for adult apprenticeships. This will give the city region the freedom to identity the priorities for its economy and offer opportunities that can attract and motivate all those who live, work and do business in the city region to achieve their potential.
  • A single allocation for the Manchester City Region for places in schools for further education for 16 to 19-year-olds (except for academies). This means that Greater Manchester will, as a region, determine the mix and number of places needed for schools and further education and control an annual budget worth hundreds of millions of pounds. It will also give the city region the freedom to determine the number of apprenticeships and where they should be based according to need.
  • A greater say in how housing funding is spent, building on the agreement between the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) signed last week. The Local Investment Agreement means that HCA and AGMA will agree future housing and regeneration priorities that bring together over £370 million of investment across Greater Manchester.  
  • A range of service delivery pilots throughout Greater Manchester which will focus upon the need to drive up skills, increase employment, support children in their earliest years, as well as new service delivery models to transform deprived neighbourhoods.
  • A commitment to improve data sharing arrangements between public agencies and local authorities.
  • More local influence over licensing of private landlords.
  •  A commitment to examine how the Manchester City Region can assume greater transport responsibilities and influence, comparable to the powers held by Transport for London.

The agreement also aims to build on Manchester’s international reputation to attract and maintain businesses from across the world.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liam Byrne said: "Cities like Manchester will play a key role in driving future national growth and improving efficiencies, helping us to halve the deficit in four years. Manchester is one of the largest and fastest growing economies outside London, and today's agreement shows our shared commitment with local government and businesses to ensure the city region continues to be an economic success.

"We're determined to give local government and other services greater autonomy to respond to the needs and concerns of local citizens. Manchester is clearly ready to take on these new responsibilities, and I look forward to seeing the benefits this will deliver for the local economy."

Lord Smith added: "I am delighted that the contribution Greater Manchester can make to future national prosperity has been recognised by this agreement.

“We have placed growth at the very top of our agenda and we recognise to meet the challenges ahead we need to develop new ways of working with government departments to tackle skills development, worklessness and reduce levels of deprivation.

“The details of the agreement which have been announced so far will enhance our capacity to meet these challenges and ensure that we have the strongest platform for growth.

“The areas identified for cooperation are absolutely critical to ensure that Greater Manchester succeeds as a place where people want to live, work and invest. By working together, we have a much greater chance of ensuring that success for our residents. Across the UK and indeed the world, I am convinced the Manchester City Region will be seen as a beacon of development and a stimulus of growth.”

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Joanne Cooke
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