18 June 2012
Lord Peter Smith is Leader of Wigan Council and Chairman of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority. He is one of the speakers at next week's LGA annual conference, addressing a workshop (W8) on ‘New perspectives on local governance' on Tuesday 26 June
"It's the economy stupid!"
Bill Clinton's famous phrase is what unites the 10 leaders of Greater Manchester (sorry, nine leaders and a mayor). To achieve better economic performance we have agreed to collaborate more closely and established the first combined authority to give us more strategic direction over the local economy and transport.
Collaboration doesn't just happen. We agreed to establish improved economic performance as our priority as we believe we can't enhance our most disadvantaged communities and give individuals the opportunity to lead better lives without it.
And it goes beyond that shared objective. We needed to pool the powers of individual authorities and agree practical joint working arrangements so we could all have our say but accept consensual decisions.
So when it came to bidding for a ‘city deal' or progressing a realistic but innovative community budget pilot, we achieved success. The innovative city deal announced in the Government's 2012 Budget allows Greater Manchester to share in the proceeds of growth created by a £1.2 billion investment in infrastructure.
This investment principle is also at the heart of our work on the whole place community budget pilot. The fragmented and reactive way of currently running public services is costly and unsustainable, particularly in the current economic climate.
In Greater Manchester, we want to shift our resources to focus on early intervention and prevention, supporting change that will give people greater optimism for the future. Pilot activities have demonstrated that new ways of working with families can improve outcomes and reduce costs from around £250,000 per family to £25,000 over a six-month period.
We are concentrating on four key areas: early years, troubled families, transforming justice, and health and social care. Core to all of this is our ambition to break into the cycle of household inactivity and dependency across the conurbation.
The key will be how we are able to link up these areas of work, while ensuring that councillors and local people are at the core of the plans. In the long run, we believe our pilot can improve quality of life, reduce unemployment and grow the local economy to make lasting improvements to the lives of local people.
31 July 2012