The devolution settlement with the government is a momentous occasion for Greater Manchester.
It builds on the work we have been doing for decades to show what we can achieve together working across political and district boundaries for the greater good - work that accelerated with the establishment of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority.
And it recognises the mounting evidence that if areas are empowered to make their own decisions based on their own needs and priorities, they can achieve better results than by having one-size-fits-all solutions centrally imposed on them.
This is not about taking powers from our local authorities. It isn’t.
It’s about powers and freedoms being handed down by central government to enable us to increase our economic growth and improve the quality of life of people in Greater Manchester.
The two things are very much intertwined. We want to create more jobs and opportunities. And we want to have a confident, independent, healthy population with the skills to seize them.
This is about powers and freedoms being handed down by central government
This isn’t about changing political structures, it’s about making a difference to the lives of Greater Manchester residents.
For example, the new powers will unlock huge transport improvements and helps tens of thousands more Greater Manchester residents into work.
Our public service reform programme, which provides the support that people and families trapped in a cycle of benefit dependency need, has already helped thousands of people. These include more than 6,000 troubled families.
This devolution deal will allow us to scale up this work to help up to 50,000 people back into work.
It allows us to give incentives to ensure that the skills, which are being provided in further education, match the skills employers need for the new jobs that are being created.
It allows us to ensure that businesses get the right support, at the right time, to help them grow and innovate.
It will allow us to oversee better bus services, guide further public transport improvements and introduce an Oyster card-style ticketing system which can be used on all modes of public transport across the region.
Inevitably many of the headlines will be about an elected mayor. But it’s important to stress that this mayor will be working in partnership with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and building on the structures we have already pioneered.
This isn’t about any individual. It’s about how we will be able to work together to deliver better outcomes for Greater Manchester and make a bigger contribution to the national economy.
This is a momentous day but we hope it’s not the destination but an important staging post on the journey to even greater devolution. To achieve that we need to demonstrate results. It’s over to us.
Lord Smith (Lab), chair, Greater Manchester Combined Authority, and leader, Wigan MBC
This momentous day for Manchester is just the beginning