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Greater Manchester gets housing powers

Greater Manchester is to be given more powers over its housing policy as part of the government's plans to create a northern powerhouse economy.A new, directly-elected mayor of the city region is to be given control of housing, as well as other key areas such as transport and planning.The mayor will administer a £300 million, ten-year housing investment fund, which is to be provided by a public sector body to the private sector in the form of recoverable loans and longer-term equity.It is hoped the money will lead to the construction of at least 10,000 to 15,000 homes over the period.Devolution of the loan will depend upon Greater Manchester demonstrating that it will be able to meet a repayments schedule agreed with the Treasury and the Department for Communities and Local Government, with the Homes and Communities Agency assuming responsibility if an agreement is not reached.The mayor will also be given strategic planning powers, with the ability to create a statutory spatial framework for the city region, which will act as the framework for managing planning across Greater Manchester.Communities secretary Eric Pickles described the devolution agreement as "an important step in our continuing work to decentralise, to increase local democracy, bring better services and deliver more homes and jobs". "Greater power for local government must always come with greater local accountability so people can challenge their council to do better and hold them to account about services they provide," he added.The mayor will also be given responsibility for transport, including franchised bus services (subject to consultation by Greater Manchester) and integrated smart ticketing across all local modes of transport.Greater Manchester Combined Authority will continue to work with the rail industry, representing local interests and shaping local station policy and development.It will also have a number of other responsibilities, including securing integrated business support services and controlling the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers in Greater Manchester.  

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