Director, social care, local government and care partnerships, DH (2010 ranking: 9)

As the reforms start to take shape on the ground over the next 12 months, Mr Behan’s support and understanding of integrated working will be vital. In particular, his stewardship of the creation of health and wellbeing boards could decide whether ambitious plans for joint working between councils and local health services will succeed or fail.

He also has the unenviable task of leading the development and implementation of the government’s separate plans for social care - a white paper is expected in April with a bill to follow later in 2012. The proposals will need to juggle the recommendations of the Dilnot review on the future of social care funding and the Law Commission report on a new social care legal framework, while offering something palatable - and affordable - to the public.

One of the six members of the DH board, Mr Behan is credited with having a firm hold on the reins of DH social care operations after five years in post. He was appointed in September 2006 at the same time as Sir David Nicholson.

A further indicator of his standing is that he earns £10,000 a year more than the prime minister.