Manchester is the place to grow up, get on and grow old
Delegates turned out in force for the pro-manchester Economics Conference 2017 at The Hilton Hotel, Deansgate.
pro-manchester Chair Jane Forbes welcomed delegates and highlighted how important it is to focus on the opportunities and challenges post-Brexit.
Over the next 12 months, the pro-manchester Board has outlined three principal goals, championing our sector; being a loud voice for business and helping with collaboration and linkages across our industries.
Mark Gregory, EY, opened the conference providing a UK Macro Economics Overview and a sneak preview of EY’s Autumn forecast. The referendum uncertainty is shaping the outlook. For the moment consumer spending is resilient. Expectations are that household spending will slow. Rates will rise soon but increases will be gradual. Overall expectations are for relatively slow but gradually improving, GDP growth.
Anthony Light of Oxford Economics highlighted that the Greater Manchester economy has significantly increased over the years. He warned “With the labour market beginning to cool, leaders will need to identify where the new jobs are going to be. Professional services will have the lion’s share of growth. 70% of new job growth will be city centre based”.
Mike Blackburn of the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership noted “There appears to be an overwhelming view that Brexit will damage the UK’s medium-term growth prospects. However, there is no consistency on the view. Manchester has always been strong and will continue to be so”.
The first panel of the day discussed the housing agenda. Panelists included Guy Butler from Glenbrook Property, Suzanne Benson of Trowers and Hamlins, and Steve Rumbelow Chief Executive of Rochdale Borough Council.
“Greater Manchester is well serviced with greenbelt land. The reality is we need to reduce the greenbelt but respectfully tackle the concerns of our communities. A plan is needed for growth, creating the right developments in the right places.” stated Steve Rumbelow.
According to Guy Butler “How the land is released is the cause for concern. There needs to be a 20-year plan, with housing associations fully involved. Housing associations need to take a role in the planning process and be actively involved at every level”.
As Chief Executive of Manchester City Council, Joanne Roney takes the lead on education and skills. Joanne states the council’s ambition is to work with employers to increase the number of opportunities available to people. In such a dynamic economy, we need to ensure we continually challenge the skills sector at every level and support the move of young people into sustainable jobs.
Joanne states “We have the opportunity to revolutionise technical abilities and employment. Employers are at the heart of providing opportunities for young people. Innovation was at the heart of our industry and we want this place to be continually recognised as a place in which to grow and develop”.
Sir Richard Leese leads the talks on the Devolution Agenda. He explained how Manchester has far more integrated power than anywhere else.
“The next biggest area to tackle is the devolution of the skills agenda. This would give us the opportunity to shape the skills offer in Greater Manchester to match current economic needs”.
The panel of Kirsty Styles – Tech North, Gary McIndoe – Latitude Law and Oliver Chapman – Regeneris discussed in greater depth, the issue of EU workers in the UK and in Greater Manchester.
The panel session on “balancing the books” included Donna Hall – Wigan Council, Ed Cox – IPPR North and Neil Thornton – Rochdale Borough Council.
Professor Jill Rubery presented the Human Development report. “Greater Manchester provides a window on the human challenges and difficulties. To have a positive Human Development Index you should have a long and healthy life, knowledge development and a decent standard of living.”
Our panel covering inclusive growth included Jean Stretton – Oldham Council, Steve Connor – Creative Concern and Todd Holden – The Growth Company.
Jean Stretton notes that “36% of people in Greater Manchester are ranked in the bottom 20% for national deprivation”. “If something is not done we will continue to fail these people, restricting the possibility of achieving inclusive growth.”
To conclude the day’s events, Eamonn Boylan, Chief Executive of the GMCA gave his views on the prospects of Manchester’s economy in light of the Brexit uncertainty.
“We need to ensure the best possible outcome for Greater Manchester. No deal would be a disaster for Britain. It will be a greater disaster for those areas fundamentally entwined with Europe. Manchester is one of those areas”.
Overall the conference was considered to be a huge success, providing insights into the challenges of providing sustainable growth across the city region. Our thanks to all our speakers, presenters, and sponsors on the day.
Sponsors Manchester Metropolitan University, Latitude Marketing, The Business Growth Hub, 90 Degrees, Trowers and Hamlins, Shakespeare Martineau, Alliance Manchester Business School and Latitude Law.