Eric Pickles pledges new city deals

Since the Scottish referendum two weeks ago the country has been awash with talk of devolution. This debate was only furthered on Sunday night when Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, pledged that there would be new city deals before next year's general election and called for "the gradual merging of decision-making by government into a single place and that's got to be local." He is determined to get power to neighbourhoods and rightly so.

This news will certainly please many of the cities and regions that have been longing for more power and control over their affairs. Last week I spent a fascinating day at the Sheffield City Summit where the repeated theme was for the local area to have more powers.

Although there is much more to be done, we are already in a place where services are shared and decisions are made collectively and locally. Just this weekend Birmingham announced that it would be joining forces with Solihull in order to work on larger projects and attract additional powers and is calling on other councils to join what it is calling a "joint economic growth hub".

At the Transformation Network we have been working with a network of places across England; from Essex to Dorset, Sheffield to London's Tri-borough, to champion a "whole place approach" to public services. At the neighbourhood level, more than 100 places are being supported as they take control of budgets and services. From healthcare to justice, services are increasingly coming together and in doing so bringing benefits to the end user, as well as fiscal gains.

This is a really exciting time for furthering devolution, service integration and putting more responsibility in the hands of local people.

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