Agenda and draft minutes

Agenda and draft minutes

Economy Scrutiny Committee - Thursday, 9th December, 2021 2.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Level 2, Town Hall Extension. View directions

Contact: Michael Williamson 

Note: This meeting can be viewed on Vimeo at https://vimeo.com/651233177 

Items
No. Item

58.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 240 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 11 November 2021.

Minutes:

Decision

 

The minutes of the meeting held on 11 November 2021 were approved as a correct record.

59.

Comprehensive Spending Review, Funding and Budget Update pdf icon PDF 511 KB

Report of the Deputy Chief Executive and City Treasurer

 

This report updates on the main announcements from the Spending Review 27 October 2021 with a focus on the thematic areas relevant to Economy Scrutiny and the impact of the budget on Manchester.

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Deputy Chief Executive and City Treasurer that provided an update on the main announcements from the Spending Review of the 27 October 2021 with a focus on the thematic areas relevant to Economy Scrutiny and the impact of the budget on Manchester. The report also provided an update on key funding programmes announced by government and the action Manchester is taking to access this funding.

 

Key points and themes in the report included:

 

·                An overview of the Local Government Finance Announcements;

·                Announcements impacting household incomes;

·                Funding announcements which benefited Manchester;

·                Implications for Employment and Skills;

·                Implications for welfare benefits and unemployment;

·                Implications for Housing, Transport, Culture, Climate and Net Zero and Innovation and Connectivity; and

·                Other relevant announcements.

 

Some of the key points that arose from the Committee’s discussions were: -

 

·                Whilst welcoming the increase in spend in tackling homelessness and rough sleeping, what was being done to reduce the numbers of people afflicted;

·                The increase in work and skills funding would not match the level of cuts that had occurred in the last ten years;

·                What would be the impact of the slow progress of the new Apprenticeship Programme on residents who need to upskill;

·                Was there any indication why the Levelling Up bid for Withington Village was unsuccessful;

·                More information was needed on the Growth Company’s Good Jobs project in North Manchester; and

·                What was the Council doing to lobby government for a fair finance settlement.

 

The Committee was advised that the Council was waiting for a meeting with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to discuss why the bid for Withington Village was unsuccessful.

 

The Director of Inclusive Economy acknowledged that the increase in funding for work and skills did not match the level of funding that had previously been cut and as the budget for Adult Skills was a stationary budget this would be impacted by inflationary pressures on salaries and pensions.  In terms of apprenticeships, the take up in Manchester had never been high and had dipped particularly for younger people and with other routes into employment and the volatility in the labor market, the attraction of apprenticeships and apprenticeship wages was not particularly attractive.  The Council was still working on promoting apprenticeships as good routes into employment and job opportunities.  She also provided a brief update on the Growth Company’s Good Jobs project and suggested that the Committee may want to consider a more detailed report on this in the future.

 

The Strategy and Economic Policy Manager advised that in terms of homelessness, there had been a national increase in the spend to tackle this and it would need to be seen as to how this filtered down to local levels before more detail could be given.  The Leader commented that the increase in government funding would not address the situation in Manchester and the Council would still need to supplement this through its general revenue budget.  The Executive Member for Housing and Employment commented  ...  view the full minutes text for item 59.

60.

Innovation Greater Manchester pdf icon PDF 326 KB

Report of the Director of City Centre Growth and Infrastructure

 

This report provides an update on Innovation Greater Manchester.

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Director of City Centre Growth and Infrastructure that provided an update on Innovation Greater Manchester – a business led platform that set out how a long-term strategy, underpinned by public and private investment, would unlock a globally leading innovation ecosystem that would spur on the discovery, invention, and adoption of new technologies and business models needed to raise productivity and competitiveness, and provide solutions for the city’s big societal challenges including net zero and reducing health inequalities.

 

Key points and themes in the report included:

 

·                Providing a background and describing progress to date; and

·                Providing a number of examples.

 

Some of the key points that arose from the Committee’s discussions were: -

 

·                Had any assessment been undertaken on whether the current LEP review posed any risks to Innovation GM;

·                Partnership working with the wider north west region should not be forgotten and what was the nature of the relationship between Manchester and the wider region;

·                Physical access to employment for residents, especially those in North Manchester, was important;

·                It was important that any employment opportunities around the Oxford Corridor did not detract from the existing opportunities located at the Centre of Scientific Research and Development at Hexagon Tower in North Manchester;

·                The regeneration of North Manchester needed to be wider than just the redevelopment of the North Manchester Hospital campus; and

·                An update on Green Hydrogen technology was requested.

 

The Leader emphasized that the inclusion of the redevelopment of North Manchester Hospital Campus within the programmes of work demonstrated that it complemented the other pieces of work aimed at driving up the standards of health care and that it also demonstrated that Innovation Greater Manchester was a city wide approach and not centered around one specific area of the city.  The Director of Inclusive Economy advised that North Manchester had been included as part of Health Innovation in Manchester's Data in Places programme, which would be submitted as part of the GM Innovation bid.  The focus for the North Manchester elements of the bid would be childhood obesity and frailty, with a view to using both quantitative and qualitative data on changing systems to tackle these two growing and prevalent population health issues.  The new approaches would make a difference to health outcomes in North Manchester and provide opportunities for commercialisation /creation of new businesses and jobs to deliver solutions internationally.. She described that this would also commercialise health opportunities that was bespoke and distinct from the Oxford Road corridor.

 

In regard to the LEP review, it was commented that Manchester had an established and proven track record of working closely with local business leaders and that those relationships would continue. It was explained that the Advanced Machinery and Productivity Institute and the Sustainable Materials Translational Research Centre that were being progressed for the Rochdale-Bury Gateway North site, would leverage Manchester’s global reputation in materials science, to create at-scale assets and services to embed new net zero materials in to manufacturing processes in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 60.

61.

Selective Licensing - Results of Public Consultation pdf icon PDF 575 KB

Report of the Strategic Director (Neighbourhoods)

 

This report provides the Committee with information on the recent consultation exercise completed in areas within Gorton and Abbey Hey, Harpurhey, Clayton and Openshaw to establish whether the declaration of a Selective Licensing scheme is required in these areas.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Strategic Director (Neighbourhoods) that provided the Committee with information on the recent consultation exercise completed in areas within Gorton and Abbey Hey, Harpurhey, Clayton and Openshaw to establish whether the declaration of a Selective Licensing (SL) scheme was required in those areas.

 

Key points and themes in the report included:

 

·                Providing and introduction and background;

·                Noting that The Housing Act 2004 gave the Council the power to introduce the licensing of private rented homes within a designated area, with the aim of improving the management and condition of these properties to ensure they had a positive impact on the neighbourhood;

·                Describing the consultation process and method undertaken;

·                An evaluation and key findings from consultation exercise;

·                A summary of the responses from both residents, landlords and agents and landlord organisations;

·                The findings from an exercise to inspect the external condition of those properties in the identified locations; and

·                Conclusions, noting that the results of both the initial and the formal consultation exercise showed the majority of residents supported the introduction of SL in all four areas. 

 

Councillor Hughes (Gorton and Abbey Ward) addressed the Committee, welcoming the proposed selective licensing areas within his ward and the improvements this would bring to private rented properties.

 

Some of the key points that arose from the Committee’s discussions were: -

 

·                Whilst currently capped at a 20% limit of private rented housing stock, what progress had been made with government to press for a city wide selective licensing policy;

·                Could a landlord with properties in a selective licensing area be required to improve standards to any properties that had outside of the selective licensing area;

·                Had there been any evidence of the increase in costs to landlords being passed on to tenants;

·                Could anything be done to incentivise landlords to provide properties that had a better ECP rating than E; and

·                Was the other 80% of private rented properties benefit from the raising of standards in properties within selective licensing areas.

 

The Executive Member for Housing and Employment stated that the Council wanted to target its resources to tackle the worst landlords in the worse areas and there needed to be a strong evidence base to apply for a city wide licensing scheme, citing a number of Councils that had applied for this but had been unsuccessful.  He stated that this would be kept under review.

 

The Committee was advised that the Council could take action against individual properties that were in a poor state and these didn’t need to fall under the selective licensing areas.  In addition, the Committee was advised that there had been no evidence of an increase in tenant rents following increased costs to landlords to improve their properties.

 

Officers advised that there was little the Council could do to incentivise landlords to improve the ECP rating of their properties as there was little in the way of grant funding.

 

The Executive Member for Housing and Employment commented that he would hope the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 61.

62.

Update on COVID-19 Activity pdf icon PDF 568 KB

Report of the Director of City Centre Growth and Infrastructure and Director of Inclusive Economy

 

This report provides Committee Members with a further update summary of the current situation in the city in relation to COVID-19 and an update on the work progressing in Manchester in relation to areas within the remit of this Committee. 

 

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report of the Strategic Director (Growth and Development), which provided a further update of the current situation in the city in relation to COVID-19 and an update on the work progressing in Manchester in relation to areas within the remit of the Committee.

 

Key points and themes in the report included:

 

·                Although unemployment levels were falling, there was still a number of job vacancies and growth was beginning to slow;

·                Challenges associated with rising inflation and energy costs on household incomes;

·                An IPSOS MORIS Political Monitor report identified that 54% of people surveyed thought the economy would get worse next year; and

·                The recent introduction of additional COVID measures had impacted on the city’s hospitality and retail sectors.

 

Some of the key points that arose from the Committee’s discussions were: -

 

·                The additional COVID restrictions would have significant impact in the city centre and financial support from Government was needed; and

·                Was office space demand in the city consistent across a typical week.

 

The Director of City Centre Growth and Infrastructure agreed the impact of the covid restrictions would have a financial impact on retailers and financial support would likely be needed for a number of retailers and hospitality businesses.

 

In terms of demand for office space, it was reported that information from agents demonstrated that there was still a strong trend for office uptake, particularly from smaller occupiers.  How this translated into occupation for next year and beyond was not yet know, but this would be kept under close review.  Abut at present there was no major concerns.  It was also reported that pre-covid occupancy levels were at around 70% and now occupancy levels were at 40-50%, so it was evident there had been a steady increase of staff returning to offices for work.

 

The Chair agreed to raise with the Leader the need to make representations to Government on the need for financial support to retailers and hospitality businesses impacted by the additional covid measures.

 

Decision

 

The Committee notes the report.

63.

Overview Report pdf icon PDF 293 KB

Report of the Governance and Scrutiny Support Unit

 

This report provides the Committee with details of key decisions that fall within the Committee’s remit and an update on actions resulting from the Committee’s recommendations. The report also includes the Committee’s work programme, which the Committee is asked to amend as appropriate and agree.

Minutes:

The report of the Governance and Scrutiny Support Unit which contained key decisions within the Committee’s remit and responses to previous recommendations was submitted for comment. Members were also invited to agree the Committee’s future work programme.

 

The Chair clarified the Work Programme items for the January to March 2022 meetings and suggested that items on access to childcare as a potential barrier to employment  and scrutiny of the work to address issues raised in the Marmot report and beacon indicators pertinent to this committee’s work (employment and housing) be added to the Work Programme as items to be scheduled in the new Municipal Year.

 

Decision

 

The Committee note the report and agree the work programme and the suggestions for future items as detailed above.