Devolution and inclusive economic growth: Lessons from Manchester

14 February 2017


Reported by Makoto Takahashi, ESRC-funded Policy Intern (January - April 2017)

On Thursday 4 May 2017, Greater Manchester will elect its first Mayor. The creation of a directly elected Mayor is part of the process of devolving more political powers to the Greater Manchester area, helping development towards a "Northern Powerhouse".

Working in partnership with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and the University of Manchester's Inclusive Growth Analysis Unit, CSaP organised a Policy Workshop to explore what steps local government could take to promote inclusive economic growth.

Hosted at the Council Chamber in the Whitworth Building, University of Manchester on 14 February 2017, the workshop was chaired by Dame Mavis McDonald and brought together 33 academic experts and policy practitioners.

Participants noted that although Manchester has enjoyed considerable economic growth since the 1980s, the benefits of this growth have been unevenly distributed. 250,000 people remain out of employment in the Greater Manchester area, 30% of children aged five are not school-ready, and 40% of students who leave school at 16 do so without either Maths or English GCSE. It is hoped that devolution can provide Greater Manchester with more tools to tackle these issues.

Policy makers were urged to learn lessons from the last few decades of regeneration policies in the UK. Reflecting on over 50 years of deindustrialisation in the UK, participants concluded that spending had often been insufficient and called for greater expenditure on social inclusion.

While new capabilities for the GMCA include increased control over local transport; new planning powers; adult education budget and a new £300 million fund for housing, questions were raised by participants as to whether the GMCA has been awarded sufficient powers or financial basis to achieve its ambitions.

However, new developments were suggested that the new Mayor may be able to spearhead. Referring to the public profiles of the Mayors of cities such as London and New York, participants argued that a Mayor has soft power too and can act as an ambassador to the world. Just as importantly, the new Mayor will act as an ambassador to central government. It is understood that this will be a key role in devolution, moving towards a model in which central government has the confidence to trust that city regions can and will deliver a wide range of projects efficiently.

Image: 'Whitworth Hall, University of Manchester' by Karlinski73

Nicky Buckley

Centre for Science and Policy, University of Cambridge

Andrew Lightfoot

Greater Manchester Combined Authority

Professor Peter Tyler

Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge

  • 14 February 2017, 12:45pm

    Devolution and inclusive economic growth (Manchester)

    Devolution offers new opportunities for inclusive economic growth. This workshop will bring together academics from the Universities of Cambridge and Manchester with policy professionals from local government to explore working together in city areas to enhance economic opportunities across the population.