The West Midlands is set for a historic political shake-up which would shift billions of pounds of spending power from Whitehall to the region.
Former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Heseltine has revealed talks are already taking place about a major devolution package for the West Midlands.
Greater Manchester has already blazed the devolution trail – with more than £1.3 billion expected to be raised from business rates under "DevoManc" – but "DevoBrum" could generate even more.
Lord Heseltine said Chancellor George Osborne had a "real personal interest" in devolving power to regional centres and wanted the West Midlands to be next.
The comments came as Labour set out its own plans to devolve power to combined authorities across the country.
Labour's plan includes giving councils control over local transport, skills, housing and measures to help the unemployed in to work, as well as a share of £30 billion, which will be diverted away from Whitehall departments.
Speaking to the Birmingham Post, Lord Heseltine said: "There is no doubt at all – I know from my personal contact with him – the Chancellor wants to see the West Midlands at the centre of a significant shift of power from London to build on the remarkable changes already taking place here.
"I think there is work to do locally and work to do nationally," he added. "We haven't quite concluded the deal, but with patience and common sense a deal is achievable – and it would be immensely to the benefit of the West Midlands.
"It means major strategic decisions for the future prosperity of the West Midlands will be made by a combination of local industrial and commercial leaders, leaders of local authorities and leaders of universities. So it will be the people who live and breathe the West Midlands."
Business and political leaders from the West Midlands have been calling for a combined authority to be established after both the Conservatives and Labour announced it was key to securing billions of pounds worth of powers.
It would mean major decisions in areas like transport, skills, planning and economic development affecting the West Midlands would be made here and not in Whitehall.
The detail would be down to negotiations with the Government but the potential for the region has been highlighted by Greater Manchester, which has agreed a £1 billion city deal, been handed control over a £6 billion health and social care budget and is set to raise £1.35 billion from business rates.
It is thought the West Midlands, or Greater Birmingham, could benefit from a business rates dividend of more than £1.5 billion. However, Greater Manchester had to agree to a region-wide mayor, despite some local opposition.
But Lord Heseltine's comments come as the West Midlands has been struggling to establish a combined authority. While the four Black Country authorities and Birmingham City Council have agreed a historic accord, Coventry is yet to sign up and Solihull has been described as a "log jam" by Birmingham leader Sir Albert Bore.
But he believes it is an opportunity not to be missed. He said: "I think the people know that in order to rise to this great opportunity there has to be compromises in order to give confidence in the new structure. That will be required, but my own hope and feeling is the goodwill is there."
He added: "There will be a negotiation. Everyone knows what Manchester has got but they also know what Manchester has done to get it.
"It is up to the leaders of the West Midlands to design their project and proposal in a way that central government can accept."
Demands for a "metro mayor" across the region are likely to prove controversial but increasingly appear key to securing major funding.
Last October, Labour's Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna called for a regional mayor in the area as part of proposals for a "more federal" UK.
Mr Osborne is also known to be an advocate of a locally elected leader. However, plans for a directly-elected mayor for Birmingham were defeated in a referendum in 2012.
Lord Heseltine accepted the role was controversial – although ultimately palatable in Greater Manchester – but thinks people understand better now that it is key to securing significant powers and responsibilities.
He said: "Elected majors are controversial. Your newspaper campaigned for that outcome and I believe in them, but I think there is a big difference now in Manchester and Birmingham and the West Midlands – people understand it better.
"Perhaps we didn't make it clear enough what was on offer as a result of the proposed changes.
"That is different today. Everyone can see there is a massive opportunity for devolved powers but they can also see that going along with that you have to have the right structures to carry through devolution. That means somebody being in charge.
"The West Midlands wants more control so it needs to show it has a structure and people in place to administer that legal responsibility. I think there is a hunger for that."
He added: "The Government has made it clear if they are going to deliver this then they have to be very confident and secure that the local people can cope with the new responsibilities."
While the Chancellor is known to have close ties with Manchester City Council chief executive Sir Howard Bernstein, it is Lord Heseltine who has come to know the decision-makers in Greater Birmingham best.
He was asked by Mr Osborne to draw up proposals for devolving powers in 2013, which led to The Greater Birmingham Project, which saw him spend significant periods of time in the city, with leaders of the council and Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership. That led to the No Stone Unturned report, which made 89 recommendations for shifting power to the regions – 81 of which were adopted.
He said his experience left him in no doubt the people of the West Midlands were best-placed to handle their own affairs.
Lord Heseltine highlighted the results of the Birmingham Post manifesto – a survey which saw readers identify their priorities for the General Election resulting in six key pledges.
It showed more than half of readers wanted Birmingham and the West Midlands to be given more funding and powers to set its own policies.
He said: "I think that is terribly important for the reason that politicians know what people want. If you are showing through your website a hunger for devolution then politicians are likely to respond to that."