Reality does not match rhetoric in Greater Manchester health proposals, says Sir Stephen Bubb

Acevo, of which Bubb is chief executive, says proposals to give the city more control over its health and social care spending overlooks the role of the voluntary sector

Sir Stephen Bubb
Sir Stephen Bubb

The charity leaders body Acevo has accused the government of overlooking the role of the voluntary sector in its proposals to give Greater Manchester more control over its health and social care spending.

Under the policy, 10 councils and a range of clinical commissioning groups and NHS providers in Greater Manchester would come together under an elected mayor to take over the region’s £6bn health and social care budget.

But Acevo said in a statement that a memorandum of understanding on the proposed structure noted only that the "role of the third and private sector in the arrangements... remains to be determined". Acevo said it considered this to be a "grave oversight".

The Acevo statement said: "The tailored delivery of services at a locally accountable and managed level cannot take place without coherent dialogue with the third sector at the very beginning of the devolution process. Otherwise, Greater Manchester and elsewhere may find themselves with responsibilities which they cannot discharge."

The statement said the third sector would be central to service delivery on the ground and that it should be "central to the modelling for devolution".

Cornwall, Sheffield, West Yorkshire and Liverpool are also set to be given more powers under the government’s devolution plan.

Sir Stephen Bubb, chief executive of Acevo, said in the statement: "There’s a huge amount of hype and rhetoric surrounding the Greater Manchester and public service reform agendas. I welcome devolution with open arms as a magnificent opportunity to reform and restore services, but it appears the rhetoric doesn’t match the reality. You cannot treat the third sector as a page 13 aside in a flagship devolution document."

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said in a statement that the devolution team had done a lot of work on the proposals with parts of the voluntary sector, including the Greater Manchester Centre for Voluntary Organisation.

He said: "The historic Greater Manchester devolution agreement gives Greater Manchester wide-ranging powers to make its own arrangements for various services, including health and social care.

"Strengthening communities and supporting individuals through working together with the third sector will be central to the approach the government takes to improving health and supporting people to take more control over their own health and care."

Acevo said it had been seconded to the Public Service Transformation Network, a think tank comprising organisations including the CBI and the Local Government Association. It will help to roll out devolution and public service reform elsewhere in the country.

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