Greater Manchester strikes trailblazing new devolution deal – “New era for English devolution” (2023)

  • Significant winsecuringgreater control overpost-16 technicaleducation
  • Newresponsibilities overtransport,housing andregenerationsecured
  • £150 million brownfield fundingdevolved
  • Single funding settlement - similar to Scotland and Wales -gives Greater Manchestermuch greater flexibility
  • More accountabilityin return formoreresponsibility

Greater Manchester’s Mayor and 10 Leaders havehailedthe city-region’s first devolution deal with the Government since 2017 as the most significant yet -securing much greater influence over crucial policy areas.

The Deal further embeds the role of local decision-making through additional powers, new financial freedoms and new accountability arrangements. It is a vote of confidence in devolutionand Greater Manchester and its ability to deliver.

The Mayor and Leaders have secured the majority of their asks in negotiations withthe Governmentand are now focused on turning their ambitions into reality as English devolution enters a new era.

Significant breakthroughs securedin the new Trailblazer Deal include:

  • the ability to create the country’s first integrated technical education city-region,so it works better for young people and employers, through a new partnership board with the Department for Education;
  • more influence on regional rail services to deliver a London-style integrated public transport system - the Bee Network - by2030;
  • £150m of brownfield funding and powers to underpinthe new Greater Manchester Good Landlord Charter, which aims to raise standards in the social and private rented sectors; and
  • a single funding settlement similar to Scotland and Wales - the first time such a flexible grant has been given to an English region.

Devolution in Greater Manchester over the years shows what can be achieved if people locally are trusted to make some of the big decisions thataffectthe daily lives of the 2.8 million residents and 124,000 businesses, such asbringing buses back under public control, introducing a£2 cap on adult bus fares and taking steps to reduce rough sleeping.

Greater Manchester is ambitious for the future of the city-region and, with more levers at its disposal,it can make a bigger difference to people’s lives.

The Government published its Levelling Up White Paper in February 2022 committing todeeper devolutioninGreater Manchester and the West Midlandsandthe Mayor andLeaders in Greater Manchester have been in negotiations withthem since then.

This will be the seventhdevolutiondeal for Greater Manchester, building on existing responsibilities over transport, business support, employmentandskills support, policing, spatial planning,housing investment andhealth.

Commenting on the new devolutionDeal, Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham said:

“This is the seventh devolution deal GreaterManchesterhas agreed with the governmentand it is by some way thedeepest. This Dealtakesdevolution in the city-region furtherand fasterthaneverbefore,giving us more ability to improvethe lives ofpeople who live and work here.

“I have always been a passionate believer in the power ofdevolution,andI’ve been in the privileged position of being able to exercise those powersand make a positive difference to people’s lives.

“We’ve worked hard tosecurethis Deal and have achievedasignificantbreakthroughby gaining greater control over post-16 technical education, settingusfirmlyon the path to become the UK’sfirsttechnical education city-region; new levers and responsibilitiestoachieve fully integrated public transportincluding rail throughthe Bee Network by 2030;new responsibilities overhousingthat will allow us to crack down on rogue landlords and control over £150m brownfield funding; and asingleblockgrant thatwill allow us togo further andfaster in growing our economy, reducinginequalities and providingopportunities for all.

“With more power comes the need for great accountabilityand I welcomethe strengthened arrangements announced in the Deal.

“Whilewe didn’t get everything we wanted from theDeal,we will continue to engage with government on those areas in the future. For now, our focus will be ongetting ready to take on the new powers and be held to account on the decisions we will be making on behalf of the people of Greater Manchester.Today is a new era for English devolution.”

Skills and employment

The Mayor and Leaders, alongside business and education, have been strongly advocating for more responsibilities over skillsandemployment to transform Greater Manchester into the UK’sfirsttechnical education city-region through the creation of an integrated skills system linked to the labour marketandpathways into good jobs.This was one of the main areas the Mayor and Leaders pushed for in negotiations withthegovernment and securingitrepresentsa significant breakthroughforGreater Manchester.

The Deal confirms a new partnership between Greater Manchester andthegovernment to provide oversight of post-16technicaleducation andskills. Thisjointboard will, for the first time in England, bring together Greater Manchester Leadersandthe Department for Education to gain better oversight of T-Levels,apprenticeshipsand othertechnicalandvocationaleducation qualifications on offer in the city-region. This willhelp ensure the coursesavailableare relevant for the local jobs market and will better support people into work, to develop them in their jobs or change careers.

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The groundwork in Greater Manchesterhas already begunwithGreater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA)alreadyworking closely with partnersincluding theGreater Manchester Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Manchester Colleges Group, to create a system that builds stronger links between employers, furthereducationand training.

TheDealalsobuilds on the successful devolution of the Adult Education Budgetto Greater Manchester, devolving non-apprenticeship adult skills functions and grant funding in the next Spending Review.

GMCA will also have local flexibilities over Free Courses for Jobs and Skills Bootcamps during this Spending Review moving towards a simplified single adultskillsfund,anditwill be the central convenor of careers provision in the city-region.

Working with the Department for Work and Pensions, therewill also be co-design of all future contracted employment support programmes, consideration of potential employment support pilots and commitments to data sharing to ensure provision addresses labour market inactivity, supported by a new joint board. This will allow Greater Manchester and the government to provide a more responsive service to supportparticular groupsback into employmentbringing together partners,including health,to improve provision.


Greater Manchester has a compelling vision to improve public transport through the Bee Network - an integrated London-style transport system for the city-region across bus, Metrolink, rail, and cycle hire services. By 2030, Greater Manchester wants local public transport connectivity to be significantly closer to the standards of London, with improved services, simplerfaresand integrated ticketing. Progress is already being made through bus franchising with public control of the buses taking effect from September in Bolton,Wiganand parts of Bury and Salford.

In order toachieve the full vision, the Mayor of Greater Manchester and Leaders need more levers which is why they pushed for and successfully secured more responsibilities over transport in the new devolution Deal.

Building on existing plans for transport integration between trams and buses through franchising, the Deal commits to activity to enable the delivery of full integration of local rail services into the Bee Network by 2030. This includes London-style touch-in/touch-out integrated fares and ticketing across bus, Metrolink and rail and Bee Network co-branding across the public transport network. This will be taken forward by a new Rail Partnership with Great British Railways, with the first pilots on integrated fares and ticketing agreed by the end of the year.

The deal lays the foundation for greater input into our stations, services and strategic infrastructure investment with the creation of theNorth WestRegional Business Unit and GM Rail Board. This will enable GMCA to improve local scrutiny of performance, help shape future service integration with the Bee Network and support the bestpossiblepublic transportexperience forthepeople and businesses inGreater Manchester.

The deal also commits the government and GMCA to identify the specific legal powers needed for Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) to effectively tackle anti-social behaviour and fare evasion on the bus network. This may include GMCA having the power to introducebyelawswhere necessary. Tackling these issues are a priority locally and the Mayor and Leaders want to do everything they can to keep the public safe when using public transport as well as protect revenue that goes back into the bus network to continue to improve it.

To be able to deliver the transport ambitions in the Deal, there is an outstanding issue which Greater Manchester is seeking to resolve. Securingthe financing of Greater Manchester's public transport system post-Covid, and in light of inflationary pressures on energy and other costs, requires short-term support over the next two financial years. Discussions are still ongoing with the Governmenton this matter, and we are working towards a positive resolution at the earliest opportunity. This is essential to delivering the fullBee Network vision by 2030.

Housingand regeneration

In the last decade Greater Manchester has been transformedby investments in newoffices, hotels, culturalvenuesand house building-including affordable homesand reshaping the centre to create new communities.This is local leadership in action, making effective use of infrastructure funding and powers to create vibrant new places.However, the Mayor and Leaders in Greater Manchester want to do moreandhavepushed forand securedadditional responsibilities to have even more influence in housing and regeneration.

The newDealgives GMCA new powers and flexible funding to build onitspotential and deliver further and faster: building more homes, tackling the poorer quality of homes across thecity-region, and spreading the benefits of regeneration further acrossthe area.

ThisDealincludesdevolving£150 million brownfield funding to GMCAwhowilldrive placemaking, housing, commercialdevelopmentand urban regeneration. This will support GMCA to deliver7000homes over the next three years.Itis a significant achievement for the city-region to secure this and will allow it to make transformative changes reflecting local needs.

GMCA will also havelocal leadershipover theAffordable Homes ProgrammeinGreater Manchester.GMCA will set the strategic direction for the Affordable Homes Programme and acquire a growing role in key operational decisions such as site selection and provider choice.This will strengthen the partnership with Homes England and utilise their long-standing delivery expertise to achieve housing ambitions inGreater Manchesterfor more truly affordable net zero homes.

There will also be aGreater Manchester Housing Quality Pathfinder, with new local powers, additionalfundingand targeted policy support,plus£3.9 million to support the elimination of the use of bedand breakfast accommodation for homeless families in Greater Manchesterand to crack down on rogue landlordsin the private rented sector, supporting the Greater Manchester Good Landlord Scheme.

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Single settlement

The Deal confirms that GMCA will receive a single Departmental-style funding settlementin the next Spending Review. Thistype ofgrant is a first in England, taking the city-region towards a Scottish and Welsh-style funding model, and will giveGreater Manchester new freedoms to take decisions that are right for the local context.

The government has accepted the case made by the Mayor and Leaders that the current fragmented system for funding Mayoral Combined Authorities with an over-reliance on bidding for different funding pots needs to change. This way of working has been holding back the city-region from bringing together resources for local priorities as ithas tomeet strict criteria for the multitude of funding pots, as well as wasting significant resources on bidding processes.

The single settlement will cover the entire Spending Review period and be agreed directly through a single process with the government. It will increase GMCA’s autonomy, ability to prioritise decisions locally, and ability to reprioritise across its own budgets and will be structured around responsibility and accountability for five functions: local growth and place, local transport, housing and regeneration, adult skills and buildings’ retrofit for decarbonisation.


Greater Manchester’s Mayor and Leadersrecognisethe importance of good governance, scrutiny and being held to account for decisions impacting on residents and businesses in the city-region and theyhave proactively pushed formore accountability arrangements in return for more responsibilitiesas part of the Dealnegotiations.

The Deal secures newarrangements for accountabilitywhich will include reporting against outcome metrics agreed withthegovernment,anenhancedrole for Greater Manchester’s existing scrutiny committeesand panelsand public hearings with Greater Manchester MPs.

The deal will be subject to a statutory public consultation which will go live in the summer.

Greater Manchester Council Leaders

Cllr Martyn Cox, Leader of Bolton Council, said:

“The council welcomes this commitment from Government for greater devolution powers for Greater Manchester.

“From skills and employment, transport to housing, our residents will know who is responsible for what and have a say in key decision making and investments.

“I now look forward to working with Leaders across the region to push for the right balance of powers and funding to ensure we continue the progress made in Bolton.”

Eamonn O’Brien, Leader of Bury Council, said:

“This deal represents the biggest step forward in devolution since the original deal was struck many years ago. It is a recognition that power and resources are best placed as near to those to which they should be serving. There will always be more we would like to see be devolved, but there will be plenty in this deal to help us improve the lives of residents in Bury and across Greater Manchester.

“In particular, I am very proud to be delivering on our ambition for Greater Manchester to become the UK’s first integrated technical education city region, bringing together education, employers and both local and national government around this objective. This will allow us to take the practical steps towards improved engagement with all parts of the system, simpler processes to follow and better outcomes for everyone.”

Cllr Bev Craig, Leader of Manchester City Council, said:

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“Securing thislatestdevolutiondeal is another significant stepforwards for Greater Manchester aspart of ourcontinuingcommitment over many yearsto bringingpower closer to our communities.

“We have a clear vision for Manchester as athrivingandinclusive world-class city and astrong plan for how to get there.The more control we have overourown destiny,both as acity andas part ofGreater Manchester,the better placed we are to achievethese ambitions. We look forward to working with Greater Manchester colleagues andgovernmentto begin exercising these new responsibilitieson behalf of the people of Manchester.

“Across successiveagreements we have madereal progress in gaining accountable powers and freedomsfrom Westminsterto help shape a successful future.This deal marks a new, deeperphasebutwe will continue making the case for furtherdevolution.”

Cllr Amanda Chadderton, Leader of Oldham Council, said:

“More powers and resources for Greater Manchester is great news for residents and businesses here in Oldham.

“A reformed and simplified educationsystem, more closely aligned to employers' needs will be of huge benefit for Oldham’s young people as we work closer together with businesses to create pathways into good jobs, and this will particularly help with our aspirations for Atom Valley.

“We’ll also see an improvement to transport services as the funding allows for better integration of the rail network into our transport system by 2030. The extra £150m in brownfield funding will be really important for Oldhamers as it helps to deliver thousands of homes on brownfield land and protection for renters will increase as new powers underpin the Greater Manchester Good Landlord Charter.

“By making more decisions closer to home on the crucial issues of education, transport and housing, we can better ensure that these decisions are being made in the best interests of local people, by those who know our communities the best.

“Already, the devolution deal for Greater Manchester has meant more money flowing into Oldham and being spent on things such as making our streets safer; improving walking and cycling routes; and supporting our local businesses.

“But more resources over a longer period of time gives Greater Manchester leaders the ability to better plan ahead and invest for the future; funding more long-term transformational projects.

“I look forward to working with the Mayor of Greater Manchester and fellow council leaders to deliver real change for our people and our places.”

Cllr Neil Emmott, Leader of Rochdale Borough Council, said:

“Our borough and the other areas of Greater Manchester have proved time and again that regional devolution works. This new deal will help us do more and show the government and the rest of the country that well-run regional government delivered through local leaders accountable to their own communities is far more effective than central control from London.

“This is a small but important step to levelling up the UK, but this along with some of the wider budget announcements such as investment zones gives us a real opportunity to make significant progress on levelling up the Greater Manchester economy, including the public transport improvements we want to see, particularly in Heywood and Middleton.”

Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett said:

“This newtrailblazerdevolution deal enables us to build on the long-standing collaboration and partnership with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and councils across Greater Manchester for the benefit of all our residents, businesses and communities.

“The latest devolution deal builds on progress to date and the strength of partnership across our city-region, further progressing responsibilities and powers we have collectively been advocating for with national government. We welcome the latest announcement on the journey of devolution, especially given that as local leaders, we understand our region and communities better than central government, it’s another step in the right direction!

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“The single funding settlement is an effective methodtodistributemoney and enables us to work together strategically in Greater Manchester to spreadfunding towhere it is needed most, in addition to hopefully streamlining bureaucracy, improving productivity, reducing inequalities and improving the wellbeing of our residents and communities.

“The deal will mean that Greater Manchester will have more control over its future, with the ability to shape better transport, post-19 skills, education and employment while also making direct decisions to improve housing and deliver regeneration across our city-region”.

Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of Stockport Council, said:

“Decisions that will make a difference to the lives of local people can now be made locally, which is welcome news and gives Greater Manchester more control of what happens in our region, including Stockport. Giving local leaders the power and influence to make important decisions like this in areas they know best, will ensure local people are at the heart of this agenda.”

Cllr Ged Cooney, Leader of Tameside Council, said:

“I’m delighted that Greater Manchester has successfully agreed a devolution deal with the government. This deal is the seventh of its kind and builds on the good work undertaken by devolving new powers to the city region in areas as diverse and vital as skills and employment, transport, housing and funding.

"In addition, a robust accountability framework has been set up to ensure that these new powers are used responsibly and in a way that delivers for Greater Manchester residents.

"I have long believed that decisions about a local area are best made by those closest to the people, communities and businesses affected. I thank everybody responsible for making this deal a reality, and I look forward to the new Devo Deal having an impact in Tameside.”

Cllr Tom Ross, Trafford Council Leader, said:

“I am delighted by the deal, particularly gaining greater control over post-16 technical education.

“We want to deliver an economy that improves everyone’s standard of living and this means we can help people improve their access to quality training and jobs.

“I also welcome the extra funding so more residents can live in green, affordable homes, as well as increasing our ability to improve our transport system.

“Working together, we can continue our journey to deliver a prosperous region that benefits all our residents, communities and businesses.”

Leader of Wigan Council, Councillor David Molyneux MBE, said:

“This is a significant milestone on our devolution journey and signals the beginning of a new era for our region. The deal gives us greater control on key issues and will enable us to design a region which addresses the challenges and opportunities unique to Greater Manchester, helping us to improve the lives of our residents.”

Article Published: 15/03/2023 12:30 PM


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