Manchester’s Chief Executive, Sir Howard Bernstein, has called yesterday’s budget a “game changer” for Manchester.
In an E mail to staff, he welcomes the budget announcements that will place Manchester front and centre when it comes to growth and job creation over the next decade.
He welcomed the announcement on Tuesday by Deputy PM Nick Clegg about the City Deal for Greater Manchester.
“This major deal empowers our region to maximise economic growth through a range of agreements between the Government and Greater Manchester Combined Authority, based on the needs and opportunities of the region’s economy.”
The new City Deal measures include “Earnback” where the Government has agreed in principle that money invested in infrastructure improvements by Greater Manchester will be ‘paid back’ to the combined authority as real economic growth is seen. This is the first tax-increment finance-style scheme in England outside London.
Sir Howard promises that “We will reinvest these ‘earned back’ funds in more infrastructure improvements to allow Greater Manchester to reach its economic potential. The first phase will include completion of the Greater Manchester Transport
Fund programme, allowing early implementation of schemes, including the Metrolink extension to Trafford Park and the A6-to-Manchester Airport relief road.
The City deal also means a shift to local decision-making, the establishment of a Greater Manchester Housing Investment Board, the creation of 6,000 apprenticeships via small and medium-sized businesses; the creation of a local, low carbon funding body, potentially bringing significant extra funding to Greater Manchester. GM will commit resources and expertise to a low-carbon hub to enable it to be a ‘demonstrator’ for Government programmes and pilots to reduce carbon emissions.
The Government will also work with Greater Manchester to develop the city’s role as a beacon for inward investment from China and India. Greater Manchester will match funding from the Government to work in those markets to generate new jobs in the UK.
Sir Howard also welcomes the £12million of Government funding to become a “superconnected city”.
This will spread the advantages of ultra fast broadband to 235,000 premises– 224,000 homes and 11,000 businesses – across the city by 2014/15. The plans will complement a Greater Manchester-wide strategy to introduce ultra fast broadband across the city region. There’s additional funding to support small and medium-sized businesses requiring even faster connectivity, including providing support and advice.
High-speed wireless connections will be installed across key public areas and along major transport corridors, making it easier than ever for people in the city to get online quickly. Currently, only 74 per cent Manchester residents can access broadband, with take-up particularly low in Wythenshawe and East Manchester.
Sir Howard says,
“Removing this ‘digital divide’ will radically improve the potential to deliver online services to residents. We aim to be one of the world’s top 20 digital cities by 2020 and this funding will help propel us along that path.”
Sir Howard concludes his E mail be saying,
“We’ve been working on gaining more powers from central Government for over a decade, and pushing for better connectivity for years. So these two budget announcements provide great news for Manchester, and I’d like to thank all those who have persevered and worked so tenaciously to get us to this day – it is a game-changer for the city.”