Almost six months out from the next set of Metro Mayor elections across England, an important milestone was reached last week – the trailblazer devolution deals for Greater Manchester and the West Midlands have been agreed, and Andy Street and Andy Burnham now hold the purse strings to hundreds of millions of pounds each.

In the March Budget, the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced the Government’s support for deeper devolution deals in both areas which includes expansive responsibility in transport, housing, skills, and elements of tax. These deals are a signal of intent about where English devolution might go across the board with the creation of a single pot of money sitting with mayors and their combined authority teams. This will allow them to deliver localised projects designed around the needs of their regions and ending (to an extent) the ‘begging bowl’ culture of metro mayors having to lobby for delivery in their areas which has existing since their inception.

This spells a big change not only in how mayors themselves operate, but also how business and civic society interact with them. From inward investment to skills training for specialist industries, both Greater Manchester and the West Midlands will see a deepening and further divergence in their own local agendas than anything seen in England so far. It also means greater accountability for the Mayors, who will be responsible for spending in a way yet unseen.

Across the rest of England, eyes will now be on how the other Metro Mayors – the ‘M10’ – fashion their own deals with central government.

This is the start of the next chapter of a devolution story which usually doesn’t interest or excite Westminster-watchers, but very soon will (or certainly should). At Blakeney we will be following the build-up closely and working with clients and their teams on the ground in both Greater Manchester and the West Midlands.