Headlines: April 1st, 2016

Devolution of powers to Greater Manchester today marks the start of what is probably the most radical reform of public services in the UK. The budget holder plays the primary role in how services are delivered and from today a range of budgets have move from Whitehall to Manchester.

The transfer of power involves health, social care, transport, housing, planning, policing, business growth and skills. This power shift and budget transfer will result in the breakdown of professional silos which cramp freedom to find the best solution for specific problems and stifle innovation.

The most high profile and probably the area where the most spectacular results will result is in health and social care. The £6bn health and social care budget will be managed by councils and health groups as part of an extension of devolved powers.

The Greater Manchester Strategic Partnership will now make decisions on how to target specific health issues. Integrating health and social care services will ease the pressure on hospitals.The new partnership, is made up of 37 organisations including hospital trusts, NHS England, the 10 borough councils and GP commissioners.

The origins of the devolution go back to the 13 Total Place pilots of 2010 when barriers between silos were temporarily removed so people on the ground could collaborate to deal with local problems. Total Place brought a paradigm shift in thinking about how taxpayers money can best be spent and demonstrated that this different way of looking at service deliver produced a better result at a lower cost. The next step was to be place based budgets, which rather than looking at a theme, such as people requiring social care or nhs services, place budgets could look across all services. This promising reform was not taken forward because the country was engulfed in the financial crash and all public service budgets were slashed.

The expectation is that Manchester will be the first of many big cities to take advantage of greater devolution of powers and this in turn will lead to a transformation of public service delivery and the development of new business models.