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12.01.17

London health devolution MoU due imminently

London boroughs are expected to agree a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) regarding health devolution with national partners early this year, which would be buttressed by individual agreements in pilot areas, London Councils’ executive committee has revealed.

In board papers released ahead of a committee meeting on 17 January, London Councils disclosed that discussions with the Department of Health and NHS England around health devolution funding are progressing, with an aspiration to finalise agreements and “facilitate next steps” early in the New Year.

First announced in December 2015, the capital’s major health devo package saw five pilots launched across London focusing on integration, accountable care organisations and asset collaboration.

It is envisaged that the MoU will be an ‘enabling document’ which allows local areas to opt-in to detailed devolution plans that build on learning from the capital’s pilots.

The agenda stated that pilots have so far led to “detailed propositions” around service integration, with councils noting that changes to regulation, payment systems and workforce will be needed. Similar propositions have also been made with regards to estates, such as reinvesting capital receipts, and prevention, including potential legislative routes to support behaviour change.

The move would make London the second region nationwide to receive a health devolution deal, following Greater Manchester’s £6bn package.

Separately, London Councils has also been involved in discussions with the DWP regarding the devolution of the Work and Health Programme, which was announced in last year’s local government finance settlement

It argued “encouraging progress” has been made so far, although the commitment to deliver the new programme “presents challenging timescales” – as well as a need for areas to “meet certain conditions, including on co-funding”.

“To help ensure success, all London government partners, including boroughs, sub-regions, and the GLA will be required to co-operate closely,” the agenda explained.

Over the coming months, London Councils and Sadiq Khan’s office will resume discussions with government for a broader reform package for the capital, which ministers had indicated might appear in the spring Budget.

Councils are looking to focus London’s devolution plans on the government’s wider jobs and housing strategy, with members looking to define the concept of place-based strategy “in a more granular way” – i.e. relating to local boroughs – rather than London in its entirety.

The Member Devolution Group of London Councils is currently seeking a date to meet with Khan to discuss the city’s devolution agenda and consider some of the wider governance issues emerging from the proposals.

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