Economic recovery narrative for the City
Report of the Strategic Director (Growth and Development) attached
This report provides members with an overview of plans to develop an Economic Recovery Plan for the city, as a key part of the Council’s forward planning in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
A presentation will be given at the meeting which will expand on the areas within this covering report.
The Committee considered a report of the Strategic Director (Growth and Development), which provided an overview of plans to develop an Economic Recovery Plan for the city, as a key part of the Council’s forward planning in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The Plan would primarily be directed at government, businesses and investors and set out a clear and detailed narrative on how the city is well-placed to use its strong assets in order to re-establish economic momentum over the next few years.
The report was accompanied with a more detail presentation delivered by Mike Emmerich of Metro-Dynamics and John McCreadie of Ekosgen who had been commissioned to develop the Plan on behalf of the Council.
The key points and themes in the report and presentation included:-
· The plan would focus on the three strategic aims identified in the Our Manchester Strategy and Our Manchester Industrial Strategy- People, Place and Prosperity, and on the priorities of inclusive growth and the foundational economy and our zero carbon commitments;
· The plan would incorporate transformational schemes and key projects under these areas, which would form part of the Council’s ask to the Spending Review, highlighting how these could deliver new jobs, homes and leverage further investment.
· The narrative and projects would form a strong proposition to government, providing a clear plan for the city to come out of recession as powerfully and as quickly as it could, by building on its long-term strengths;
· It would reinforce the importance of regional cities such as Manchester as economic engines, particularly highlighting opportunities in the city centre, the Oxford Road Corridor, North Manchester and Airport City.
· There would also be an emphasis on working with distressed businesses as new opportunities emerged; youth skills and encouraging young people to stay in education; graduate re-skilling; apprenticeships schemes; and support for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic residents and the over-50’s who had also been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19; and
· Following feedback from the Committee, the narrative and key project proposals would be further developed for wider discussion. The document would then be finalised in advance of the Comprehensive Spending Review f for submission to Government.
The report would also be considered by the Executive at its meeting on 9 September 2020.
Some of the key points that arose from the Committees discussions were:-
· How would the Council seek to unlock funding from government so that the most disadvantaged residents in the city had the opportunities to access the opportunities that were envisaged as part of the Plan;
· It was important to remember the role of district centres and their contribution to the city’s economy and there needed to be a continued focus on these centres going forward;
· It would be essential to obtain the necessary funding from government to deliver the ambition of zero carbon retrofitting of the Council’s housing stock;
· Clarification was sought as to who was the primary audience for the Plan and what was unique about Manchester’s Plan compared to other cities;
· It was commented that our response to the economic crisis needed to set a longer term trajectory in line with the local industrial strategy and Our Manchester Strategy rather than simply trying to get back to where the city was before the impact of COVID19; and
· It was felt that the narrative of the Plan needed to be mindful of the language it used in relation to “rescuing” those within the foundational sector, as the employment opportunities within this sector were also important to the cities recovery.
Mike Emmerich (Metro-Dynamics) commented that work was taking place to identify real distinctive Manchester propositions that delivered opportunities to all communities across the city. He also acknowledged the point raised around district centres and advised that this would be picked up and incorporated into the Plan. In terms of low carbon and specifically the housing retrofit programme and fleet de-carbonisation programme, he advised that these were two principle sources of carbon emissions in the city that the Council could directly affect and the Plan contained robust proposals that would profoundly change carbon emissions and fuel policy around affordable homes.
In terms of the audience of the Plan, it was explained that the principle audience of the Plan was government, as it was government who held a lot of the power to unlocking the ambitions for the city. In relation to what made Manchester’s Plan unique it was commented that the Plan would be aligned to the key areas of strength that were unique to Manchester, such as its Science and Innovation sector. It was also closely aligned to the Our Manchester approach and had emphasis on achieving a zero carbon target by 2038.
The Leader noted too, the important role that district centres played in the city’s economy. He commented that some of the biggest schemes with the proposals were not city centre or district centre based and emphasised that the city centre accounted for 10% of all jobs in Greater Manchester and the GMSF would identify that the city centre would see over 50% of commercial development across greater Manchester alongside the jobs that would come with this. As such it was important to acknowledge the important role the city centre played. He further commend that the business and investor sectors were or equal importance in terms of the audience for the Plan as without these, the city would not be able to get its economy back on to the correct trajectory.
Chris Oglesby (Chair of the Business Sounding Board), commented that it was essential that the city created satisfying, productive jobs for Manchester residents and this was critical to the Plan being successful, not only in high growth sectors but also the foundational sector of the economy, noting that a lot of the jobs created since the industrialisation of the 1980’s had been neither satisfying or sustainable. He felt it would be challenging to get central government to empower the city through formal programmes to do more, as such, it was felt that the challenges the city’s economy faced needed to be solved at a local level in partnership between the Council, businesses and education providers.
The Leader supported the point made around the language used in the narrative of the Plan centred around low skilled jobs and commented that there needed to be a system that recognised the value of the contribution that those who worked in these made to the economy.
(1) Requests that as the narrative of the Plan develops, it contains more of a balance between the role of neighbourhoods and district centres in correlation to the City Centre.
(2) Requests that the narrative is clearer on active travel proposals tied to government initiatives and strategies;
(3) Requests that the language of resilience is reviewed and taken into consideration especially when referring to the foundational economy;
(4) Requests that part of the narrative focusses on delivering jobs that are satisfying and sustainable.