Plan for Manchester devolution ‘offers independence blueprint’

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MANCHESTER should be given income-tax raising powers and complete control of spending within five years as a blueprint for granting full devolution to English cities, a think tank has claimed.

Scotland’s independence referendum - and the extensive new powers promised even in the event of a No vote - has refocused attention on giving local powers to the rest of the UK. ResPublica said a Greater Manchester Combined Authority, with an elected mayor and assembly as in London, should first be given power over property taxes and then income taxes and the right to reinvest savings to increase revenue.

The new authority would also be expected to commit to devolving further to localities within its area, according to the “Devo Max - Devo Manc” report.

It comes after the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told The Yorkshire Post the offer of devolution to Scotland would put “rocket boosters” on the process in England. But he also warned that there was no appetite for a return of “Labour’s failed regional quangos stuffed with new politicians”.

The director of ResPublica, Phillip Blond, said: “For decades we’ve watched England’s cities sliding into decline. This is why England needs devolution.

“Financial freedom must come to Greater Manchester. Its population is bigger than Northern Ireland’s. Its economy is bigger than Wales. And it has a higher growth rate than Scotland.

“This is a blueprint for independence for cities in England.”

Lord Peter Smith, the chairman of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority - which brings together the areas 10 existing authorities - said: “We welcome the broad thrust of this independent analysis which makes a case for total devolution to city regions on a scale that recognises the game-changing potential to both reduce public spending and boost growth.”

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