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.
The devolution deal is now in its fourth iteration, and around a third of public spending is now controlled locally. Powers devolved include over Transport, Criminal Justice, Further Education and Skills, Business Support, Employment Support, Land and Housing, Mayoral powers over Police and Fire services, a Housing Investment Fund and, notably, its Health and Social Care (H&SC) budget.
Control over H&SC was granted in the form of an MoU between NHS England and GM local authorities and CCGs. It has been in place since April 2016, and 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.
Greater Manchester now has an Interim Mayor, Tony Lloyd, and will elect a Mayor in May 2017.
Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise sector activity
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’ [link to agenda] 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.
Taking Charge of our Health and Social Care
As part of the Greater Manchester Taking Charge campaign to inform the public about health and social care devolution, GMCVO were asked to deliver a community engagement programme, focusing on hard to reach cohorts. The project came about as a consequence of the letter sent to the Interim Mayor in July 2015.
The project was hailed as a significant success, with dozens of community groups and Healthwatches involved, and the VCSE sector engaging far exceeding its allocated quota of conversations.
Taking Charge Together, the final report, showed that most GM residents were enthusiastic about devolution and keen to improve their own health but social and environmental factors were seen as some of the most inhibiting.