U.K. Treasury Plans Manchester Mayor in Devolution Plan, FT Says

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne will give extra powers to Manchester, including imposing a directly elected mayor on the city, as part of plans to create an economic hub in the North of England, the Financial Times reported.

The move, which is due to be announced next week and discussed by council leaders today, will give Greater Manchester more powers over science, skills, schools and housing, as well as over the road network and rail franchises, the FT said, citing an unidentified person familiar with the situation. It will not include tax raising powers, according to the newspaper.

“The chancellor has made clear in a series of speeches that he is in favor of mayors for our great northern cities,” the treasury said in a statement. The treasury declined to comment on any specific plans for Manchester, which rejected having a directly elected mayor in a referendum in 2012.

Pressure on the government to devolve more authority to English regions has intensified after Prime Minister David Cameron promised Scotland new powers as he battled to keep the nation part of the U.K. in the Sept. 18 referendum. Osborne earlier this year said he’ll set out a 15-year plan to create a so-called “northern powerhouse,” details of which will be announced in the Autumn Statement on Dec. 3.

Cameron and Osborne earlier this week said they backed a proposal for a high-speed rail line across northern England, referred to as HS3.

Opposition Labour leader Ed Miliband will today say his party’s election manifesto will include plans to give city and county regions more power over their public transport networks, according to a statement released by his office. He will also pledge further decentralization of powers to English regions with an English Devolution Act.

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