A consultation paper to be published within the next two weeks will seek opinions on how to implement last year's sub-national review (SNR), putting joint working arrangements between councils on a more formal footing.
The implementation plan will highlight the government's intention to push beyond multi-area agreements (MAAs) being piloted by 13 clusters of councils as a means of driving economic growth.
A senior source at the Department for Communities & Local Government indicated innovation on planning and budgets was expected. "This isn't about creating new bodies or bureaucracies but to make it easier for areas to formalise or legalise their collaborations if they want to," he said.
The inclusion of proposals in the SNR implementation plan reflects enthusiasm in areas such as Greater Manchester to move their joint working on to a more advanced level.
"There was some discussion about whether to consult on this or not," said Ian Keating, senior policy officer at the Local Government Association. "But there is at least one large city region that might want to have it as an option."
Communities and local government secretary Hazel Blears has previously told LGC she wanted to see authorities in Greater Manchester show a willingness to "pool their sovereignty" to secure collective economic benefits.