In 2017 all ten metropolitan boroughs in Greater Manchester are going to come together to elect a communal Mayor, thus making Greater Manchester the largest non-capital city in Europe. The £1billion Manchester Devolution Deal, as envisioned by Chancellor George Osborne, will transfer powers regarding transportation and housing investment fund, directly from Whitehall to Greater Manchester. The Mayor will not have complete control however, but will instead be required to consult a cabinet, consisting of 10 civic leaders from the 10 boroughs, for mayoral strategies.
According to Osborne, the Devolution Deal will hugely contribute to the creation of the Northern Powerhouse and bring the government one step closer to bridging over the substantial gap between the North and South of the country. A decentralisation of powers, from London to other major UK cities such as Manchester, is said to have a positive impact not only on the local economies, but additionally to the overall success of the British economy.
North West had the largest rise in economic output compared to any other part of the UK
Whilst one may wonder about the reasoning behind placing such a strong emphasis on Northern cities, it is a fact that in the past year, the North West had the largest rise in economic output compared to any other part of the UK. Being comparable to European cities such as Munich and Barcelona, and contributing £50.9billion to the UK economy, Manchester City Council argues that Manchester does not, by any means, enjoy enough autonomy.
However, Greater Manchester has already shown its ability to successfully create a collaborative authority comprising ten boroughs: the Greater Manchester Combined Authority. This governmental body believes that with greater freedom to make decisions and use funding based on the unique local needs and opportunities, which is enabled by the Devolution Deal, Greater Manchester can achieve not only a burgeoning economy but also create jobs and support its citizens. Manchester City Council furthermore adds that public spending will be reduced by helping people on benefits in more difficult living conditions, instead of by cutting the services supporting these.
In his recent Autumn Statement Chancellor George Osborne further strengthened his plans for Britain’s Northern Powerhouse by investing heavily into improvements of English roads and railway systems, as well as by investing into science, technology and culture sectors, particularly in the Manchester area. Examples include the Sir Henry Royce Institute for Advanced Materials Research and Innovation, and the Factory, a new £78million theatre and arts venue in the heart of the city.
The Manchester Devolution, enforced by the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement 2014, is considered to be a prime example of what other major UK cities, besides London, can expect in the future.