MANCHESTER should be given income-tax raising powers and complete control of spending within five years as a blueprint for granting full devolution to English cities, a think tank said.
Scotland’s independence referendum - and the extensive new powers promised even in the event of a No vote - has refocused attention on local powers in the rest of the UK, including England.
ResPublica said a Greater Manchester Combined Authority, with an elected mayor and assembly as in London, should first be given power over property taxes and then income taxes and the right to reinvest savings to increase revenue.
The new authority would also be expected to commit to devolving further to localities within its area, according to the “Devo Max - Devo Manc” report.
Director Phillip Blond said: “For decades we’ve watched England’s cities sliding into decline. This is why England needs devolution.
“Financial freedom must come to Greater Manchester. Its population is bigger than Northern Ireland’s. Its economy is bigger than Wales. And it has a higher growth rate than Scotland.
“This is why it should be able to set its own taxes. It should have an elected Mayor.
“These plans outlined in today’s report, will allow it to turn its fortunes around, lifting the population out of the doldrums. This is a blueprint for independence for cities in England.”
Lord Peter Smith, chair of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority - which brings together the areas 10 existing authorities - said: “We welcome the broad thrust of this independent analysis which makes a case for total devolution to city regions on a scale that recognises the game-changing potential to both reduce public spending and boost growth.
“This full devolution model echoes our ambition, and we welcome ResPublica’s view that Greater Manchester would be uniquely placed to pioneer it.”
Graham Allen, chair of the Commons political and constitutional reform committee, said: “What is good for Scotland is good for England too where councils will be the vehicle for devolution, ResPublica shows how.”