GREATER Manchester is embarking upon an ambitious and transformative new era, says Mayor Andy Burnham: one that is greener, fairer, and more prosperous for everyone living and working here.

With fairness a cornerstone of the city-region’s planned transformation over the next decade, the Mayor unveiled at a major event held today (Monday 14 March) in Manchester city centre that Greater Manchester will soon become the first city-region where all councils agree to pay the real Living Wage to all those working in adult social care.

Furthermore, in placing the environmental agenda and residents’ health and wellbeing front and centre of this ambitious vision for the future, this afternoon Dame Sarah Storey is to be appointed the city-region’s new Active Travel Commissioner.

Dame Sarah, Great Britain’s most successful Paralympian, takes up the role after former Olympic cyclist Chris Boardman became England’s Active Travel Commissioner earlier this year. Dame Sarah has worked as a policy advocate for British Cycling, with a particular focus on promoting road safety and improving access to cycling for women and those with disabilities. Most recently, she was Active Travel Commissioner in South Yorkshire, where she led the transformation of the region’s cycling and walking network. Dame Sarah will start her work in May and will work alongside the newly appointed Transport Commissioner Vernon Everitt.

In order to deliver the real Living Wage for all adult social care staff working in each of Greater Manchester’s boroughs, local authorities will pledge to stipulate payment of the real Living Wage in their contractual arrangements with adult care providers.

By the end of the year, more than half of Greater Manchester’s 10 boroughs will be paying the real Living Wage, soon to be £9.90 per hour. The remaining boroughs are on track to deliver the same hourly rate for their adult social care staff soon after.

This will continue the work launched in November 2021 to develop Greater Manchester as the first real Living Wage City Region, collaborating with employers across sectors.

Mayor Andy Burnham said: “Greater Manchester is the first city-region to commit to paying the real Living Wage to social care workers. We want to ensure that people working in Greater Manchester receive fair pay, have decent working conditions, and experience opportunities to develop and progress. Greater Manchester is the first Living Wage City Region in the UK, working to help make the real Living Wage the norm and address in-work poverty.

“Greater Manchester has come a long way in a short space of time. But the pandemic has laid bare inequalities in our city-region. In this new era for this place, all parts of Greater Manchester will come together and deliver a fairer, greener, more prosperous conurbation for every person living and working here.”

On the appointment of the new Active Travel Commissioner, the Mayor added: “I am delighted Dame Sarah Storey is coming home to Greater Manchester after making such an impact working in South Yorkshire. We have much to deliver together: over the next 12 months we will continue to build on the plans set out by our former Transport Commissioner, Chris Boardman, to make active travel the number one choice in our city-region for everyday trips to work, school and the shops, or as part of a longer journey using public transport.

“This summer, the first phase of our cycle hire scheme will launch in full, making 1,200 bikes available across 200 stations in Manchester, Salford and Trafford, providing tens of thousands of people with access to an affordable, reliable and convenient cycle hire service.”

New Active Travel Commissioner Dame Sarah will advise the Mayor on the Bee Network active travel vision: a £1.5bn plan to create 1,800 miles of routes to connect every area and community in Greater Manchester, by integrating cycling and walking with other public transport modes and making it easy, safe and attractive for people to travel on foot or by bike for everyday trips.

Funding of £217m has already been confirmed for 117 packages of work. Delivery of these began in 2018 and is expected through to 2025.

Greater Manchester is also delivering on ambitious cycling and walking infrastructure, working towards the creation of the UK’s largest network. The next 12 months will see a further 60km of high-quality routes to Bee Network standards, 40 school streets that make cycling, walking and scooting to school safer and easier, 18 new crossings to overcome breaks in our walking and cycling network and 12 of our award-winning, Dutch-style CYCLOPS junctions

Dame Sarah said: “I’m delighted to be coming home to Greater Manchester as Active Travel Commissioner and am excited to get to work with partners across the city-region.

“Getting physically active is a great way to improve both physical health and mental wellbeing, and cycling and walking short, everyday journeys are some of the easiest ways to do it. Local communities here are already reaping the benefits that quality, safer and more connected walking and cycling routes bring, but there is so much more to come. 

“I can’t wait to get started and to enable the benefits of active travel to reach every community in Greater Manchester.”

At an event in front of more than 150 delegates at Escape to Freight Island in Manchester, the Mayor and Greater Manchester Leaders also laid out further ambitious proposals as part of the new Greater Manchester Strategy, setting out the city-region’s fairer, greener and more prosperous future. The proposals including powering the decarbonisation of Greater Manchester through an innovative Retrofit Accelerator and plans for 30,000 new zero carbon homes alongside a new Green Spaces Fund.

Greater Manchester pledges to be carbon neutral by 2038. At a time when residents’ energy bills are rising sharply, the new Retrofit Accelerator will support people to take action to retrofit their homes, making them better insulated, less draughty, and heated sustainably. The Accelerator forms one part of the work of the wider Retrofit Taskforce, which is already spending £24m on retrofitting homes and has secured £97m to improve public buildings, and a further £19m to spend on social housing via the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund.

Alongside the drive to retrofit, Greater Manchester will deliver 30,000 net zero social rented homes by 2038. The city-region’s response to the twin housing and cost of living crises, the properties will also help to address the challenges of homelessness and rough sleeping.  

As a further commitment to delivering safe and enjoyable places in which to live and work, Greater Manchester will launch a new fund, with an initial value of £2.6m, to enhance or create new community green spaces. Through the Green Spaces Fund, small grants will be available for community groups wanting to create new spaces or improve existing ones in their local area. These might be unused areas that people want to open up for wider access, a community garden, greening a street, creating a parklet – we want to hear from communities what will make a difference to their area. The Fund will be open for applications in May, and will be run under the existing Greater Manchester Environment Fund, which is already channelling £2m of funding into environmental projects in the city-region.

Deputy Mayor Paul Dennett, GMCA Lead for Housing, Homelessness and Infrastructure, said: “Over the past two years, we have all become ever more aware of the benefits we get from spending time either at home or in nature. Without easy access to nature, people don’t get the benefits for their physical and mental health, and all of the other benefits green spaces can provide. It is therefore my pleasure to be able to announce the creation of the new Green Spaces Fund: further details can be found on www.gmenvfund.org.

“In addition to improved green spaces, it is critical that we deliver homes that match our own high environmental standards. We need to find ways to build more and higher quality houses, and to charge lower rents for them when they are complete. Our planned delivery of 30,000 net zero carbon social rented homes is a huge step up from business as usual. Every new home that is built that is not net zero carbon adds to the retrofit challenge that we face as we try to decarbonise our already poor carbon performing existing housing stock. This is a key commitment – we have our ambitious target that all new homes will be net zero by 2028, and supporting our plans for a net zero city-region no later than 2038 – 12 years ahead of national targets.”

Other ambitious commitments set out at the event include:

  • Public Procurement. GMCA and local authorities will move by 2023 to only procuring from companies that pay the real Living Wage, support good employment and have developed plans to become carbon neutral
  • Live Well. Building on our local social prescribing services we will create a Greater Manchester Live Well minimum offer, designed with communities and offering routes into supported activity, information and advice across all 10 localities
  • Retrofit Delivery Plan. We will support the creation of thousands of good quality new jobs in retrofitting our buildings
  • Foundational Economy. We will launch a £1m fund to support the ‘Foundational’ or ‘Everyday’ economy helping people running businesses or enterprises to innovate or experiment to test new ways of working
  • Community Wealth Hub. GMCA is launching a co-design process to create a Community Wealth Hub with the aim of making Greater Manchester the best place in the country to set up and grow co-ops, social enterprises, and employee-owned businesses 
  • Innovation GM. Our blueprint to drive innovation across the whole conurbation and unlock a world-class innovation ecosystem to 2030. Government has backed our business-led plan, with:
    • a share of £100m of funds through the Levelling Up agenda
    • a commitment to work together to level up R&D spend across government into the city-region

Article Published: 14/03/2022 15:15 PM