New prison could be built in Greater Manchester as Chancellor hands region more powers

Source: ITV news

Plans for a new prison and more powers over business rates, housing and skills for Greater Manchester have been announced in the Chancellor’s latest budget speech.

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority, made up of the region’s 10 local authorities, will work with Government to create a “modern new prison estate” with greater involvement in future plans for local courts.

The region will also be the national pilot for the 100% retention of business rates previously announced by the Chancellor George Osborne. Right now business rates are collected by local councils and sent to Whitehall to redistribute. The pilot will begin in 2017, three years ahead of schedule.

As well as looking into the building of a new prison, the GMCA will take on a greater role in the delivery of criminal justice services.

Additional responsibilities include greater involvement in the commissioning of offender management services, greater influence over education provision in prisons, and joint work with Government to improve services for youth offenders.

Greater Manchester will also have greater influence over funding to support the victims of crime, and will work with Government to explore how other budgets could be devolved, including the custody budgets for female offenders, young offenders and those sentenced to less than 2 years in prison.

“I am pleased that Greater Manchester will take on a greater role in shaping and delivering criminal justice services and have greater influence over funding to support victims of crime,” said Tony Lloyd, Interim-Mayor of Greater Manchester.

“Greater Manchester has already proven itself committed and capable of transforming local justice and rehabilitation services. Our whole system approach to working with women offenders, for example, has been held up nationally for bringing together police, probation, health and other agencies with the voluntary sector to tackle underlying issues of reoffending.”

Other new powers include:

  • The 19+ Adult Skills budget will be devolved in full from 2018/19.
  • Power to establish ‘A Single Pot’ for investment in economic growth, pooling transport funding with Local Growth Funding and the £30m per annum investment fund established as part of Greater Manchester’s “Earnback” deal.
  • A Life Chances Investment Fund from April 2017.

Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese said:

“Devolution is about giving local leaders the power to make decisions that improve their communities. This fourth devolution agreement is an important step along the road map to giving Greater Manchester control or influence over all public spending in Greater Manchester.

“The Government recognises that in Greater Manchester we’ll make better decisions over investment, housing, skills and deliver a stronger economy. We’ve established the direction of travel, and this agreement is another move in the right direction.”