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City devolution plan – the devil is in the detail

14 May 2015

The fact that the Chancellor is announcing this signals that this is a politically important move – meeting a manifesto commitment.

Greater Manchester goes first and others will follow provided cities buy into having elected mayors. Similar devolution was promised for shire counties – an equally important step.

Devolution of powers on transport, housing, skills and health care is welcome, but how far will the Government go in devolving tax and spending powers? We need to see the Bill – and the small print. And the devolution agenda goes hand in hand with whether existing statutory powers available to all local authorities are adaptable for a new disposition of responsibilities.

Assuming other cities (including in the Midlands) follow, the effects will be as much to do with re-building civic democracy. That is welcome so long as the new Combined Authority model does not, in its own (local) way, go too far in centralising powers.

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