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A devo state of mind

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Talking to those involved in developing and negotiating the Greater Manchester devolution deal, it’s easy to see why the chancellor was sold on the Northern Powerhouse.

There is a strong and well-articulated vision of what devolution could achieve and how.

Even if the reality of what has been handed over to local government in Greater Manchester doesn’t quite live up to the hype, it is streets ahead of other devolution deals agreed so far.

Locally, the deal is viewed as a catalyst: whatever is achieved as a result of the additional powers, at least as much can be realised through the closer public sector that devolution is fostering.

Among its most fervent supporters in Greater Manchester, devolution feels like a state of mind, a way of approaching problems that is not constrained by boundaries between areas, sectors or central and local government.

For less ardent devotees in Manchester and elsewhere, devolution seems capable of generating - simultaneously - enthusiasm and scepticism in equal parts.

It’s fair to say there is a lot of detail still to be worked out in Greater Manchester, not least around health and social care, and there’s a long way to go to realising the vision.

But it is this city’s detailed and well thought through proposition - a product of years of joint working - that has so far set the region apart in the devolution stakes.

The coming weeks and months will tell whether anywhere else can catch up.

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