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Closer to Home

Exploring the depth of Devolution in Greater Manchester

Author: Amy-Grace Whillans-Welldrake

Greater Manchester is one of the leading pioneers of devolution across local government in England. The Combined Authority has pioneered this approach as a means to enable local solutions and early intervention to reduce demand on public services. Delivered via an approach rooted in local pride, an independent Northern spirit and with the conviction that local knowledge produces better policies and solutions. 

So what does devolution mean to the citizens of Greater Manchester and the future of local government and the welfare state? How have residents experienced these changes? To answer these question this report explores the progress of this approach through the perspective of the voluntary, community and enterprise sector (VCSE) experiences of devolution, its views on the future of devolution in GM and the implications for public services and local democracy. 

VCSE organisations described in detail the assets and challenges facing their communities alongside the organisational impacts of devolution, while outlining their thoughts on the future of devolution in Manchester. 

By using a mixture of interviews, surveys and case study examples this report can reveal that 82% of VCSE organisations interviewed and 50% of VCSE organisations surveyed were in favour of further devolution in principle from the Greater Manchester level. Organisations described their vision for further devolution as providing 4 key elements: 

  • Increased local commissioning and innovative approaches to funding
  • More local influence and control over employment powers
  • Increased democratic control, participation, and engagement locally
  • Greater community ownership across local economies 

However, support for future devolution was subject to a number of caveats and dependent upon the type of power or service to be devolved, at what level, and the funding arrangements required. Support was also dependent on the guarantee that services would provide equal access to consistent levels of quality support and provide representative and accountable decision-making structures.

This report therefore argues that the VCSE sector needs to be at the heart of thinking and piloting new forms of devolution, which must include the four key themes above if the sector and citizens are to play a meaningful role within future reforms.

Read and download the free pdf in your browser here.


The publisher is the Centre for Welfare Reform.

Closer to Home © Amy-Grace Whillans-Welldrake 2020.

All Rights Reserved. No part of this paper may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher except for the quotation of brief passages in reviews.

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