Local leaders have signed an historic deal with the government which gives Greater Manchester new powers over transport, housing and technical education with mayor Andy Burnham handed full control over finances.

The trailblazer devolution deal was signed by Levelling Up minister Dehenna Davison, Mr Burnham and the 10 council leaders on Tuesday.

Speaking at the signing ceremony hosted by Manchester College at its new campus on the former Boddington’s brewery site near the city centre, the Conservative minister said the new deal will "revolutionise" the way that Mr Burnham’s office works and, by doing so, improve people’s lives.

The Greater Manchester trailblazer devolution deal signing ceremony at Manchester College on Tuesday, March 21 (Picture: GMCA)

The Greater Manchester trailblazer devolution deal signing ceremony at Manchester College on Tuesday, March 21 (Picture: GMCA)

She said the deal gives the Labour mayor the "flexibility" and "financial fire power" to rise to the challenges the city-region faces and allow it to "reach its true potential".

And she said the deal could soon be replicated in other parts of England too. 

She said: “The Greater Manchester city region is poised to lead us through a fourth industrial revolution and one that is no less significant than the first.

“Manchester was where the world’s first programmable computer was invented, where the atom was first split, where graphene was first discovered. 

"And today (Tuesday) as we agree this deal and usher in a new era for English devolution, Manchester is once again blazing a trail for others to follow.”

After signing the agreement, Mr Burnham said that this will be one of his most significant achievements as a politician because it affects the whole country.

He said the deal demonstrates that English devolution is working and allows Greater Manchester to go further and faster towards shaping its own future.

He committed to laying out a "clear plan" for a London-style public transport network which includes trains by 2030 using the new powers in the deal.

He also promised to pioneer a new approach to improving housing standards and to create the country’s first integrated technical education system which links up colleges with businesses so courses reflect the needs of the local economy.

Asked whether Greater Manchester would want to go further, Mr Burnham confirmed that he will ask for even more powers in the future. 

He explained how the city-region intends to use these powers using a football analogy.

He said: “We’re team players here. But we’re team players who want to be freed up a bit on the pitch, if I could put it that way – a bit of a number 10 role, getting out there and doing our own thing, creating our own chances – that’s what we’re about.”

In her speech, the Levelling Up minister described the trailblazer devolution deal as a "giant leap towards full fiscal devolution".

It comes as a new report by think tank Northern Powerhouse Partnership calls on the government to go further by giving local leaders more powers to raise revenue through taxes.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service after the signing, the minister said the deal is the "beginning of a new chapter" for devolution.

But she would not say whether Greater Manchester could be given more powers.

She said: “We’ve proved the concept of devolution more broadly, now I think we need to prove the concept of the trailblazer powers, showing that they will really deliver more bang for buck at a local level and ultimately give more power back to local people. Because that’s what devolution is all about.”