03What will the new directly-elected metro mayors be able to do?
The directly-elected metro mayors will be responsible for setting out a strategy for growing the city region economy, and will have certain powers over issues such as housing, transport and skills. Previously the majority of these powers lay either with individual local authorities, such as most planning or local transport decisions, or with national decision makers, such as the adult skills budget administered through the Skills Funding Agency.
Exactly what the metro mayors will be able to do is determined by the individual deals that each city-region has agreed with government. Due to different capacities, appetites and abilities to deliver, the deals are likely to vary in size and scope across different city regions. The majority of city regions are focusing on gaining powers over skills, housing and transport. Greater Manchester has these powers but has also agreed devolution of more powers over criminal justice and health and social care.
Over time, the powers of the metro mayor may increase, as has happened in London. The Devolution Bill is a deliberately non-prescriptive and enabling piece of legislation that allows for the devolution of almost anything – housing, health, welfare, policing and more – to a local level. The limit to the level of devolution under this model will be the willingness and ability of local and national politicians to reach agreement on what other functions may be devolved in the future.