Greater Manchester has acted as a trailblazer for English devolution, forming the first combined authority in 2011, and signing the country’s first devolution agreement in November 2014. It is one of the first of six areas in the country to elect a 'Metro Mayor', Andy Burnham in Greater Manchester.

The VCSE MoU signing at Manchester Town Hall with Andy Burnham and Lord Peter Smith

The VCSE MoU signing at Manchester Town Hall with Andy Burnham and Lord Peter Smith

With the most advanced city-region devolution deal, around a third of public spending in Greater Manchester is now controlled locally. This includes control of a £6bn health and social care budget since 2016, managed by a partnership of local authorities and statutory bodies, the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership. 

The voluntary, community and social enterprise sector officially signed an MoU with the GM Health and Social Care Partnership in February 2017, which sets out shared priorities between the two sectors, outlining work that is underpinned by £1.1m in funding to the sector until 2021. However, the GM VCSE Devolution Reference Group has been contributing to health and social care activity since budgets were devolved last April.

Other areas that have been devolved include: transport, criminal justice, further education and skills, business support, employment support, land and housing, and mayoral powers over police and fire services. 

Taking Charge of our Health and Social Care

The strategic NHS plan for Greater Manchester for 2016 - 2021 is focused on four ‘bubbles’ of activity: a radical upgrade in population health, transforming care in localities, standardising acute hospital care, and standardising clinical support and back office services. It aims integrate the spending of health and social care budgets and in doing so achieve better outcomes at lower costs. 

The sector and VSNW have had significant involvement in health and social care devolution, with areas of activity including: 

  • Taking Charge Together, engaging communities on the Taking Charge strategic plan, focused on hard to reach cohorts and led by GMCVO. This involved dozens of voluntary and community groups and local healthwatches, and held 1,500 conversations in a short time period. 
  • Cancer Championswhich aims to recruit 20,000 people to create a 'social movement for health' that addresses high cancer rates in Greater Manchester. Ben Gilchrist, VSNW's Social Movement Lead, delivers on this activity.
  • The GM VCSE Devolution Reference Group, a 'coalition of the willing' that seeks to promote the sector's role in devolution. It brokered the VCSE MoU with the Health and Social Care Partnership and feeds into strategic boards and policy developments. 
  • The GM VCSE Assemblya regular meeting forum for sector organisations and key public sector individuals.

The Memorandum of Understanding (right) between the Health and Social Care Partnership and VCSE sector will enable more joint work between the two. 

The Greater Manchester VCSE Devolution Reference Group

In July 2015, a group of VCSE sector leaders wrote to the interim Mayor, Tony Lloyd, to begin to develop a programme of engagement with the sector. The letter suggested creating a Memorandum of Understanding, a VCSE Strategic Partners programme, and outlined the sector’s expertise in communications and engagement of hard to reach communities.

The letter sparked a series of conversations, which resulted in Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, asking VCSE organisations to ‘bring us your offer’ for devolution at VSNW’s conference in 2015. 

VSNW convened a ‘Day in the Future of Greater Manchester’ for VCSE organisations to begin to develop the sector’s offer in December 2015, where a shared vision was agreed of ‘eradicating inequality in a generation’s time.’

Since then, the GM VCSE Devolution Reference Group has been formed, a partnership of eighteen VCSE organisations who are working to promote the role and involvement of the VCSE sector and communities in devolution. The group has been meeting since February 2016 and members are now directly inputting to H&SC workstreams in Greater Manchester.

Greater Manchester VCSE Assembly

After successfully gaining a place on the Strategic Partnership Board, the body that oversees H&SC activity in GM, GMCVO have formed a VCSE Assembly, which at present constitutes around 100 hundred organisations from the region.

The Assembly provides a venue for VCSE organisations to have a direct dialogue with key devolution operators in the public sector, as well as a place for workshops and joint activity within the sector to take place.

Members of GMCVO or infrastructure organisations in Greater Manchester are eligible to join the Assembly. If you’d like to do so please contact either GMCVO or your local CVS or infrastructure organisation.