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How devolution to Manchester could work

Jonathan Carr-West of the Local Government Information Unit reviews Respublica's recent report.

By Jonathan Carr-West

For more election policies, predictions and profiles, explore May2015.com.  

English devolution is on its way, announced by the prime minister the morning after the Scottish referendum, and all of a sudden the north is politically fashionable.

George Osborne is personally championing northern devolution with his “northern powerhouse” scheme, Nick Clegg has a rival “northern futures” project, and influential think tanks are arguing for central government to give power to northern regions and cities.

If ever a city demonstrated both the need and the potential for English devolution, it is Manchester.

It has a successful history of collaboration between the ten authorities that comprise the city region. it has already created the Greater Manchester Combined Authority. It was one of first and largest of the government’s City Deals with an innovative “Earn Back” mechanism for forward-funding infrastructure investment.

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And, of course, we could equally cite twenty years of successful regeneration and a much longer history of radical politics and of civic and commercial innovation in the city.

If ever a city demonstrated the potential for English devolution, it is Manchester.

At the same time there is a £5 billion fiscal gap between the money Manchester earns and the money it spends. Funding is provided by more than 50 different central bodies and, as in the rest of that country, the vast majority of that money is spent on responsive public services rather than on the preventative measures that would improve people’s lives and help reduce that £5 billion gap.

This is the framework through which Respublica’s recent report, Devo Max – Devo Manc, examined Manchester’s potential and the challenges it faces.

The report calls for a place-based settlement in which all public services and all £22bn public spending are devolved to Manchester, and for fiscal devolution in which property taxes and even income tax are managed and partially retained locally. It claims that these proposals “are perhaps the most radical yet made for city-based devolution”. Certainly, they go further than many in placing income tax and health under local control.

Read the rest of this piece on May2015.com.


Jonathan Carr-West is Chief Executive of the Local Government Information Unit. This piece is provided by the Think Tank Review, a new site bringing you the best ideas, policies and proposals from the think tank world. 

 

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Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com Our Thursday ideas newsletter, delving into philosophy, criticism, and intellectual history. The best way to sign up for The Salvo is via thesalvo.substack.com Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates. Weekly analysis of the shift to a new economy from the New Statesman's Spotlight on Policy team.
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