Cities in UK to gain devolved powers
UK Chancellor George Osborne is set to outline plans for “radical devolution” of powers to English cities.
In his first major speech after the General Election, UK chancellor George Osborne promised cities in England the chance to gain devolved powers. The one caveat is that these cities must agree to be governed by a directly elected mayor.
The chancellor is looking for other cities to follow in the footsteps of Greater Manchester, which received the go ahead to hold the area’s first mayoral elections to take on such powers in two years' time. This will then be used as a blueprint for other cities that wish to follow suit.
"I will not impose this model on anyone," Mr Osborne said in his speech in Manchester.
"My door now is open to any other major city who wants to take this bold step into the future," he added.
'Old model broken, bring in the new'
Mr Osborne also said in his speech that: “The old model of trying to run everything in our country from the centre of London is broken.”
He then added that it has created an “unbalanced economy” while separating the people from the “decisions that affect their lives”.
The powers on offer to combined authorities will include those over transport, housing, planning, policing and public health. The elected mayor would then lead and chair the meetings of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, and assign responsibilities to the cabinet of leaders from Greater Manchester’s ten councils.
Devolution will then give councils control of the £5 billion of public money made available to them each year, and the deal is expected to grant them control over an extra £2 billion.
The proposed devolution will also aim to further the government’s Northern Powerhouse plan, which aims to close the economic gap between the North and the South. Mr Osborne has said that more than £18 billion of extra funding could be made available by 2030 to back this plan.
However, it seems that not all regions back the idea. For instance, Liverpool’s city mayor supports the plan but has failed to gain the support of local leaders in the region. Meanwhile, other cities such as Leeds and Newcastle are less than enthusiastic about the idea of devolution.
Mr Osborne has previously stated that an elected mayor must be established for regions that wish to give devolution a go, but all local authority leaders in the region must agree to hold an election.