Many people living in Greater Manchester have felt for years that their voices have been ignored by Whitehall and Westminster and they have wanted the chance to have a say over how local services are delivered.
We had a debate in the Commons last week about the devolution proposals known as Devo Manc – which will transfer key powers, including transport and health from London to Greater Manchester.
I welcome this because there have too often been barriers to working together and sharing information in the delivery of services because of boundaries between the 10 local authorities, 11 police divisions and 12 Clinical Commissioning Groups In Greater Manchester.
I found this when researching my ‘Real Voices’ report on Child Sexual Exploitation in Greater Manchester. It was clear that children at risk of sexual exploitation do not observe local government boundaries, health boundaries or police boundaries. And nor do their predators.
Project Pheonix, broke through the barriers and provided a cross boundary multi-agency response to child sexual exploitation across the whole of Greater Manchester to ensure that child victims receive the same standard of response regardless of where they live. They also initiated a very successful “It’s not Okay” campaign to build public awareness of CSE, to help young people recognise when they are being groomed.
Devolution will give us the opportunity for good cross boundary working in other areas too, for example, at the moment health is fragmented and Devo Manc will mean better co-operation in delivering health services across the whole of Greater Manchester.
The key now is to ensure that we get enough funding to make devolution a success and that is why I support the campaign launched by the MEN, including this newspaper, in urging the Chancellor to provide a proper financial settlement to make sure devolution works well for all the people of Greater Manchester.