Headlines: December 18th, 2009

The ten local authorities in Greater Manchester will sign a groundbreaking deal today, giving the area more powers and responsibilities devolved from central government. The agreement will unite the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities behind a formal arrangement.

It will be signed by Lord Peter Smith, the chair of AGMA, and Phil Woolas the Minister for the North West, at a ceremony in Bury. There have been extensive discussions about the deal since the Chancellor announced the Manchester City Region pilot in his Budget in April. It recognises the role of Greater Manchester as a focus for national growth.

The Manchester City Region will become the UK’s fourth low carbon economic area with a focus on the built environment. The region will also have new statutory powers to be able to set its own skills policy, and more freedom to set priorities for adult apprenticeships. There will also be a single allocation for the Manchester City Region for places in schools and for further education for 16 to 19-year-olds, allowing the region to determine the mix and number of places that are needed and to control an annual budget of hundreds of millions of pounds.

Today’s deal will also signal a range of service delivery pilots which will focus on the need to improve skills, increase employment and support children in their earliest years, as well as new models to transform deprived neighbourhoods. Working together the authorities will study how the new city region can take on greater transport responsibilities comparable to the powers held by Transport for London.