GWYNNE BLOG: The success of Greater Manchester shows the need to give powers to the regions

Manchester city centreThe cost-of-living crisis has been going on for too long with working people now £1,600 per year worse off on average.

Although the Tories claim that everything is fixed you and I know that many parts of Greater Manchester are struggling and are yet to see any upturn at all. Local people tell me, and I agree with them, that our area has the strength and will to grow economically if only it was given the means and the opportunity.  I’m proud of our area and I know what it’s capable of achieving, given the chance.

The Tory-led government is incapable of dealing with the long-term economic challenges we face because it’s committed to a race to the bottom built on low pay, low skills, low prospects and low productivity.

The way to make a real difference in people’s lives is to make sure the economy works for working people. So the next Labour government will build a highly skilled, higher wage economy. This will mean more apprenticeships and higher skilled jobs in sectors like construction trades, health and caring professions and the technology sector.

But this can’t just be imposed from Westminster – real change needs local people to make the difference and create the jobs we need. That’s why Ed Miliband has announced that Labour will back city and county regions to become engines of growth so we can develop our own economic strategies, clearly focused on the creation of well-paid, highly-skilled jobs for people in our area.

As part of this, Labour will give new city and county regions the power to keep any additional business rates income they can generate use it to invest locally in measures to boost growth, such as new housing and infrastructure, and to give local workers the skills and training they need to succeed.

We will expand high-quality apprenticeships for school-leavers in science, technology, engineering and maths so that our young people will be equipped for the high-quality jobs of the future. We want those that will drive these big changes to be fully involved so we will also give local businesses a direct say in how to grow the local economy and what the priorities should be.

We in Greater Manchester have already led from the front in the battle to even out regional spending disparity. The creation of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority marked the first city-region to be given statutory powers and budgets, and this paid off in the role we have now as a national economic powerhouse. Not only would our plans give more authorities the right to exercise statutory powers, but they would give more powers and funding to Greater Manchester.

By unleashing the potential of our cities and regions so they can be the drivers of economic growth, as we have done in Greater Manchester, we can tackle the cost of living crisis and ensure we all benefit from our future economic prosperity.

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