Insight

How powerful will Manchester’s recovery be?

Manchester City Council recently announced its Powering Recovery plan: a report setting out how the city will kickstart its economic recovery after the crisis caused by the pandemic.  

Manchester isn’t content with merely picking up where it left off, it wants to consolidate its previous momentum.

What is intriguing is Manchester’s use of the Conservative Government’s campaigning language, wanting to ‘build back better’ and looking to take advantage of the government’s ‘levelling-up’ agenda.

The Plan asks for around £800m of Government funding and was announced just in time to put pressure on the Chancellor’s Spending Review. Manchester also wants to capitalise on the potential from ‘green’ investment – with a target to be net zero by 2038 and ambitions to promote a more liveable, greener city – whilst championing what it sees as the city’s key strengths: culture and heritage. 

Amidst the rhetoric, there were specific investment priorities spelled out in the plan too. Most notable was a £260m scheme to retrofit all 68,000 social homes in the city to be more energy efficient and emit less carbon, and the transformation of North Manchester with a new health and wellbeing centre alongside the Northern Gateway scheme, the largest housing development in the north. 

Manchester’s hope is that by driving investment into the city, both from Central Government and from the private sector, it will enable the city to bounce back economically, as well as helping to fund societal gains, targeted to build resilience in the city’s residents.

The focus societally is on skills, with a fund established to support young people to stay in education and gain qualifications in high-demand sectors, alongside supporting self-employment. 

Manchester City Council is being clever here. Alongside the obvious baiting of the Government to call its bluff over further funding – still raw after the Andy Burnham and Marcus Rashford sagas – is the overt political backing for private sector investment designed to inspire confidence in its local economy. 

It remains to be seen how far their ambitions will be realised, but what is certain is that Manchester is looking to utilise the political capital gained during the pandemic and steal a march economically by already looking ahead to our post-Covid world. 

BECG is working with a number of clients to promote investment into the city. If you need help understanding the local political landscape or would like to discuss this topic further, please do not hesitate to get in contact with Bob Ward.

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