Greater Manchester is leading the way on the devolution of powers and budgets from national government. The aim of devolution is to enable more local decision making, which will lead to greater benefits for people and communities. The fourth and latest devolution agreement (link below) was published in March 2016 and included new responsibilities for Greater Manchester including criminal justice, adult skills provision and a 100% business rate retention pilot project. The Greater Manchester Combined Authority website has further information on the new powers and the priorities of the "Devo Manc" agenda.
Impact for the voluntary sector and communities - GM Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise Devolution Reference Group
In partnership with other voluntary, community and social enterprise sector leaders, Macc is a member of the Greater Manchester VCSE Devolution Reference Group. This group came together from a range of conversations during 2015 and is seeking to promote involvement of the VCSE sector in devolution as it evolves. The group has stated its ambition for devolution is “eradicating inequality within a generation” and has agreed a number of objectives:
• Champion VCSE engagement in devolution across Greater Manchester by promoting the vital role the sector plays in working towards a more equal society
• Act as a point of contact for those working within Greater Manchester devolution and Greater Manchester’s VCSE sector
• Share information and opportunities, operate transparently and think beyond individual organisations
• Promote positive change and collaboration within the VCSE sector through devolution
• Create a social movement for change that empowers the communities of Greater Manchester
The secretariat lead for the group is Voluntary Sector North West and an information sheet including the group’s objectives and a full list of members can be found below.
The group considers all aspects of devolution and has contributed to discussions and policy work on topics such as transport, inclusive economic growth, leadership and the broad public service reform agenda. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, it is the health and social care agenda which has been the focus of a great deal of attention, not least because so much of the sector's work is relevant to health and wellbeing.
Health and social care
Information on health and social care devolution can be found in the Health and Wellbeing section.
Devolution and Beyond - Voluntary Sector North West publication
April 2017 saw the publication of Devolution and Beyond, a collection of essays on the role of the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector in seeking to make devolution mor inclusive. There were contributions from a range of organisations including the Big Life Group, CLES and an essay from Macc Chief Executive, Mike Wild, on the challenges ahead for the new Greater Manchester mayor. One of these challenges is addressing inequality between the central area of Greater Manchester, which is perceived to be wealthy, and the surrounding boroughs, which are perceived to be more deprived.
Local needs, local voices: building devolution from the ground up
An NCVO report, published in March 2017, challenges government to ensure all future devolution agreements include standards of engagement and plans for voluntary sector involvement. Local needs, local voices: building devolution from the ground up state that there is no current criteria for these agreements and no guarantees that the voluntary and community sector will be consulted or involved in any way. In fact, very few charities report that they have been involved in devolution discussions and Karl Wilding, director of public policy at NCVO says; "There are great opportunities in devolution for charities to play a bigger role and help ensure that authorities get and use the powers they need to best serve all their communities. We’d like to see local authorities involving the voluntary sector from the very start of the devolution process in order to ensure the voices of all communities are heard and to make the most of these opportunities."
Devolved powers for the Work and Health Programme
It was announced in January 2017 that Greater Manchester would be receiving new powers and £28m to develop and deliver a local version of the Work and Health Programme. This aims to address the gap in employment rates between disabled and non-disabled people by providing more intense, tailored support based on local expertise.
Councillor Sean Anstee, Greater Manchester Combined Authority Lead Member for Skills and Employment said: "In Greater Manchester we know that when we create local solutions to help people back in to work they are much more effective. Through intensive, tailored support from local key workers our Working Well programme has helped people right across our city-region get back in to the workplace. These new devolved powers will help us expand Working Well and make a real difference to people's lives. More people will now get the support they need to find a job and be successful in Greater Manchester."
• Promoting the sector’s important role in devolution as a ‘strategic and delivery partner’
• As a member of the Greater Manchester Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise Devolution Reference Group
• Monitoring developments and sharing these with members and the wider voluntary sector
• Promoting and supporting increased public engagement, accountability and influence in the new decision making powers devolved to Greater Manchester.
For more information, please contact the Policy and Influence Team on 0161 834 9823 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The fourth and latest Greater Manchester devolution agreement
Greater Manchester Combined Authority website
Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership website