Burnham: Devolve further education to metro mayors

5 Jun 18

Further education policy would improve if handed over to metro mayors, Andy Burnham has told a group of MPs.

The Department of Education was the “least cooperative department” for the regions, the mayor for Greater Manchester told the public administration and constitutional affairs committee yesterday.

“There needs to be substantial devolution of post-sixteen skills to build a talent pipeline,” from which local businesses can benefit, he said.

Burnham said he was frustrated because the DfE, throughout successive governments, had never prioritised technical education.

He also told the committee the UK has the “most over-centralised government in the world”.

He suggested metro mayors were being “held back” in their efforts to become more involved in several areas of governance.

Work and pensions and transport would also benefit from devolved governance, the Manchester mayor said. 

The former shadow health secretary also explained: “The answer to Brexit, in my view, is to let more areas have more power to write their own story.

“A healthier political culture will develop in those places when power is closer to people.”

Discussing the inaugural ‘Convention of the North’ this month, where business and civic leaders will celebrate Northern culture, Burnham said: “The north of England is beginning to get organised, it is beginning to find its voice.”

“My hope is that it will rebalance the political debate in this country from south to north.”

Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills, Anne Milton, said: “We have been working closely with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority since plans to devolve their adult education budget were announced and we are on track for full devolution to take place for the academic year 2019/20.

“It is disappointing to read the comments from Andy Burnham.

“The Education Secretary held a positive meeting with him on 4 June as part of the department’s work to develop a closer relationship with the GMCA. I have also visited Manchester, and met with providers in the area.”

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