In May, Greater Manchester voters will elect a metro mayor for the second time. The city region entered the Covid-19 pandemic with above average levels of unemployment, and the number of people claiming unemployment-related benefits has increased by a further 70,000 since March 2020. While Centre for Cities expects the bounce back from Covid-19 to be swift, the city region’s challenges pre-pandemic will continue to be an issue post-pandemic.
The headline challenge for Greater Manchester is to improve the performance of its economy.
Policy priority 1: Continue the turnaround of Manchester city centre to improve job opportunities for all Greater Manchester residents
- Use the convening power of the mayor to help Manchester city centre get back on its feet.
- Continue to support new city centre office space
- Make sure housebuilding keeps pace with demand, and is built where it is needed.
Policy priority 2: Better connect people to jobs and improve air quality by improving public transport and tackling congestion
- Introduce a congestion charge for Manchester city centre
- Add a higher charge for all diesels and other high-polluting vehicles
- Invest these revenues into the new franchised bus service.
Policy priority 3: Ensure young people have the skills and support to fully benefit from Greater Manchester’s growth
- Offer pre-apprenticeship training and apprenticeship mentoring
- Undertake an audit of adult education spend in Greater Manchester
- Use the convening role of the mayor to tackle the underperformance of Greater Manchester schools
Priority for the government: Level up the mayor’s planning powers
Planning policy affects the scale and distribution of new housing, interacting with transport and skills policy. It is a strategic economic power that should be held at the scale of the city region, as in Greater London through the London Plan, not at the local level as in the rest of the Mayoral Combined Authorities.