Cities in England will be given more powers over local transport, housing, planning, healthcare and policing matters under new plans announced today by George Osborne.
The chancellor said that the new Conservative government wanted to transfer devolved powers to cities across England because the old model of running everything from London is no longer effective and has unbalanced the economy.
It’s made people feel remote from the decisions that affect their lives. It’s not good for our prosperity or our democracy, he added.
Amongst other things, the changes introduced as part of the Cities Devolution Bill would potentially make it easier for authorities to take a joined-up approach to investment in energy efficiency and smart city technologies.
Osborne’s announcement comes nearly a year after he said that there was a need to create a northern powerhouse to help close the gap between the north and south of England and rebalance the UK economy. The government has promised more than £18 billion of extra funding to the region by 2030.
Greater Manchester, which will elect a mayor in 2017, is the first city set to benefit from extra powers and will become a blueprint for other large cities to follow.
According to the Guardian, the powers of the Greater Manchester mayor will include a devolved and consolidated transport budget, with a multi-year settlement to be agreed at the next spending review, as well as strategic planning and a new housing investment.
Councils in Greater Manchester currently control about £5 billion of public money each year, the BBC reported, adding that the changes will give them control over a further £2 billion.