Devolution in Greater Manchester

In November 2014, the Greater Manchester devolution agreement set out new powers for the region over transport, housing, planning and policing – via a directly elected region-wide Mayor, the first such post outside London.

In November 2014, the Greater Manchester Devolution Agreement set out new powers for the region over transport, housing, planning and policing – via a directly elected region-wide mayor, the first such post outside London.

In May 2017, Andy Burnham (Labour) was elected to the new role of Mayor of Greater Manchester. He received 63% of the vote, winning majorities in all ten Greater Manchester boroughs. Burnham’s mayoral campaign heavily focused on homelessness. Once elected he delivered on his campaign promise to donate 15% of his salary to a newly created ‘homelessness fund’. The homelessness and housing crisis in the region has remained a key priority of his over the past year.

The Greater Manchester Mayor oversees the work of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), run jointly by the leaders of each of the 10 councils in Greater Manchester.

In February 2015, the 37 NHS organisations and local authorities in Greater Manchester signed a landmark devolution agreement with the Government to take charge of health and social care spending and decisions in the city region. On 1 April 2016 Greater Manchester became the first region in the country to have devolved control over integrated health and social care budgets, a combined sum of more than £6bn.

Devolution of housing and planning

The devolution agreement sets out proposals to introduce new planning powers to encourage supply, regeneration and development in the region.

The first devolution deal created a £300m Greater Manchester Housing Fund in 2015 with an aim to build an extra 15,000 new homes in Greater Manchester. To date the Housing Investment Fund has committed over £420m to build over 5,800 units at 23 sites across Greater Manchester. The deal also granted the Mayor the power to create a statutory spatial framework for the city region, which will act as the framework for managing planning across Greater Manchester, and will need to be approved by unanimous vote of the Mayor’s Cabinet.

Subsequent rounds of devolution granted:

  • a Greater Manchester Land Commission to oversee the efficient utilisation of the public sector estate
  • power to form Mayoral Development Corporations to drive regeneration and progress on complex schemes, subject to the support of local authorities
  • compulsory purchase powers for the Mayor, subject to the agreement of local authorities
  • the Greater Manchester Mayor the power to implement a Community Infrastructure Levy to support development and regeneration in Greater Manchester, subject to the unanimous approval of the Mayor’s Cabinet.

In June 2017, Mayor Andy Burnham announced that Salford’s City Mayor, Paul Dennett, would be the GMCA’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning. The GMCA’s housing priorities are:

  1. Building homes
  2. Dealing with empty homes
  3. Improving infrastructure
  4. Revitalising town centres
  5. Greater Manchester Spatial Framework, which will ensure the right land will be available up to 2035.

Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF)

The GMSF is a joint plan for Greater Manchester that will provide the land for jobs and new homes across the city region.

The framework is being produced by all 10 councils working together in partnership to ensure the right land is available in the right places to deliver the homes and jobs needed up to 2035. It will identify the new infrastructure such as transport, schools, health centres and utility networks required to achieve this.

In October 2016, the combined authority published its first draft of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework. Following a period of consultation, the document is currently being rewritten and a revised draft will be published in the summer of 2018.


November 2017 saw the introduction of a £1.8m Housing First programme in Greater Manchester – aimed at housing up to 270 entrenched rough sleepers across the region.

The scheme, financed by a social impact bond put up by Bridges Fund Management, 15 Greater Manchester housing associations and two private-rented sector partners forms part of the new Greater Manchester Homes Partnership which also aims to provide wrap around support needed to enable individuals to sustain a tenancy and access appropriate health, training and employment services.

This is in addition to the announcement in October 2017 that Greater Manchester will receive £3.8m to develop a new approach to preventing homelessness and reducing rough sleeping as part of a landmark package agreed with the Government.

Greater Manchester housing providers

Greater Manchester housing providers (GMHP) house one in every five people across the region, owning more than 250,000 and building 8,000 new homes in the last five years. GMHP add £1.2bn to the local economy each year, providing 30,000 full time jobs. Last year, GMHP assisted 7,000 local people into work and provided over 10,000 weeks of apprenticeships. With a collective turnover in excess of £1bn, GMHP spend three in every four pounds in Greater Manchester. Each year, GMHO donate £3m grant funding to community groups each year to support communities to thrive.

Greater Manchester Housing Providers is the strategic housing partnership constituted of 27 housing associations and arms-length management organisations (ALMOs) across Greater Manchester. In 2016 the Greater Manchester Combined Authority approved a memorandum of understanding with GMHP which recognises housing providers’ track record of delivering positive change, which ideally places them to play a pivotal role in further developing new approaches to growth, public service reform and the management of place as the combined authority’s strategy is rolled out.

GMHP has a work plan to achieve the strategic aims of the memorandum of understanding. Priorities include:

  • growth
  • homelessness
  • employment, skills and training
  • low carbon
  • future form and funding of social housing
  • public service reform
  • health and housing.

Each work stream has a chief executive lead and reports into the GMHP chief executive’s meeting and core group, which monitor progress and delivery. The GMHP provide regular updates on the progress of the work plan to the combined authority executive. The GMHP is chaired by Jon Lord, chief executive of Bolton at Home. There are also a number of task and finish groups which focus on key policy areas that affect Greater Manchester.

This infographic demonstrates the contribution that housing providers in the region make to the local economy and community.

The Greater Manchester Development Joint Venture

Housing associations in GMCA have undertaken a joint venture to deliver supply in a quick, cost efficient and transparent way. Funding will come from members of the joint venture and the GMCA. The supply offer is flexible, and will be tailored to the needs of each borough and their strategic housing ambitions. The Joint Venture will reinvest profits into building new homes and delivering on social purpose.

To discuss devolution in Greater Manchester, please email Ciarán Tully, External Affairs Manager for the North West region.

Read Greater Manchester's ambition to deliver by clicking here.

Back to the devolution hub.


This page was last updated March 2018.