The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (the GMCA) was made by the:

  • Greater Manchester Combined Authority Order 2011 (the 2011 Order)
  • Greater Manchester Combined Authority (Amendment) Order 2015 (the 2015 Order)
  • Greater Manchester Combined Authority (Functions and Amendment) Order 2016 (the 2016 Order)
  • Greater Manchester Combined Authority (Functions and Amendment) Order 2017 (the 2017 Functions Order)
  • Greater Manchester Combined Authority (Fire and Rescue Functions) Order 2017 (the 2017 Fire Order)
  • Greater Manchester Combined Authority (Transfer of Police and Crime Commissioner Functions to the Mayor) Order 2017 (the 2017 Policing Order).

The local authorities who comprise the membership of the GMCA are Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan (the Constituent Councils); and "such other persons as the Secretary of State considers appropriate."

The Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, was elected on 5 May 2017.

The GMCA can exercise broad powers relating to highway authority functions, the main functions of the HCA, certain planning functions under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (the TCPA 1990), the spatial planning and development corporation powers of the Greater London Authority Act 1999, and responsibility for policing, fire and rescue. The Mayor possesses powers in relation to crime and policing. He can also make grants to the Constituent Councils for wide purposes, although he is overseen by various committees and in many cases must obtain the permission of the Constituent Councils before acting.

Powers

Transport

The 2011 Order authorised the abolition of Greater Manchester's Integrated Transport Authority and the transfer of its functions, property, rights and liabilities to the GMCA; and the delegation of limited transport functions, such as management of traffic signals and certain crossings. It also established the existing Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive as an executive body of the GMCA.

The 2011 Order transferred some minor functions relating to economic development (the power to encourage visitors to visit) and air quality to the GMCA.

Housing

The 2016 Order transferred functions of the HCA under the Housing Act 1985 and Housing & Regeneration Act 2008 to the GMCA (exercisable concurrently with the HCA), including the power to improve the supply and quality of housing and to secure the regeneration or development of land. These include powers to acquire land compulsorily. It also applied key functions from the TCPA 1990 to compulsorily acquire land for development and other planning purposes.

Economic Development and Regeneration

The GMCA is responsible for improving the economic wellbeing of its area. Under the 2011 Order, the GMCA became a member of the Commission for the New Economy Limited and the Manchester Investment and Development Agency Service Limited. These are companies limited by guarantee with a remit to promote growth and prosperity within Greater Manchester. The 2016 Order transferred to the GMCA functions corresponding to those of the London Mayor in the Greater London Authority Act 1999 (the GLAA 1999) in relation to spatial planning (from Sections 334 to 348 of the GLAA 1999).

The 2017 Functions Order grants the Manchester Mayor functions, matching the functions of the London mayor from the Localism Act 2011 in relation to Mayoral development areas and designation of Mayoral development corporations. The Mayor was also granted the main TCPA 1990 functions in relation to Mayoral Development Areas under the same Act in the same manner as the London mayor. Perhaps interestingly, the very powerful "call in" powers of the London mayor for planning applications of potential strategic importance set out in the Town and Country Planning (Mayor of London) Order 2008 have not yet been applied to the GMCA, although there is a recognition that the GMCA could obtain these in due course.

Other powers

Crime and Policing: The 2017 Policing Order transferred the responsibilities of the elected Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner to the GMCA, and his functions to the Mayor. These include setting the policing budget, and priorities within the budget. (The previous Commissioner used his discretion to hire more community support officers, for example, and oversaw improved links with mental health services.) The 2017 Policing Order also mandates the transfer of property, rights and liabilities in relation to the Police and Crime Commissioner's office to the GMCA. The policing budget constitutes the majority of the annual budget that the GMCA will directly control (estimated at around £900m).

Fire and Rescue: The 2017 Fire Order transferred the responsibilities and functions of the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority to the GMCA.

Waste Disposal: The 2017 Functions Order also gave the Mayor certain functions relating to waste disposal, dissolving, and transferring the functions of the Greater Manchester Waste Development Authority to itself.

Funding and grant-making: The funding of the GMCA's activities and functions are drawn from the funds of the Constituent Councils. The enabling statute(s) of the GMCA generally require that "the constituent councils must ensure that any reasonably incurred costs of the GMCA are met in relation to the functions conferred" by the orders, "to the extent that the GMCA has not decided to meet these costs from other resources available to the GMCA."

Grants: The 2017 Functions Order also enables the GMCA to make grants to local authorities, transferring the power of a Minister of the Crown to do so under the Local Government Act 2003, for any expenditure to be incurred by it.

Decision making

The constitution

The GMCA has powers to establish committees as it sees fit to discharge its functions (in accordance with its constitution), delegate authority to officers (except for those set out in Part 3 of its constitution such as approval of budgets, borrowing limits, constitutional amendments and local transport plans, for example). The constitution of the GMCA sets out rules to govern the operation of various committees and joint committees of the GMCA.

There are specific restrictions and conditions on the exercise of any compulsory acquisition powers by the GMCA, requiring, for example, all members of the GMCA appointed by Constituent Councils whose land may be affected by the proposals to approve their exercise.

Schedule 1, para 3 of the 2011 Order states that any questions to be decided by the GMCA are to be decided by a majority of the members and substitute members acting in place of members, who are present and voting on that question at any meeting of the GMCA. However, certain matters are only to be decided by a unanimous vote of the members of the GMCA: these include those in relation to the spatial development strategy (SDS). Some votes require special majorities – for example, a vote of at least eight members is needed for adopting a "sustainable community strategy under" the Local Government Act 2000.

Powers of the Mayor

Certain functions of the GMCA can only be exercised by the Mayor. These include the functions delegated to the GMCA regarding the compulsory acquisition of land and functions regarding the SDS, for example. However, these "exclusive" powers cannot be exercised by the Mayor without (for example, for the CPO functions) the consent of the Constituent Councils whose land falls within the area covered, or in some cases (such as the spatial strategy functions) the unanimous agreement of the Constituent Councils.