Clearly we remain in the throes of battling the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis.
We continue to focus on supporting the significant and immediate needs of those impacted most by the situation, and on building a safe environment for the people of Greater Manchester as lockdown lifts.
But, the earlier we can begin building for what comes next, the better our chances will be of delivering a strong and successful recovery.
In planning our recovery, it’s important to pause and reflect on what we’ve seen and learned during these difficult past few weeks.
We’ve seen that many of the people who play a vital role in keeping our lives ticking along are working in the poorest conditions, and often for the lowest pay.
We’ve learned that it is possible to quickly and radically improve the quality of the air we breathe, just by changing our own behaviour.
We’ve realised that the health and wellbeing of our people and our economy are in fact intrinsically interconnected.
We’ve been amazed by people’s ability to evolve and adapt to a very different world, almost overnight. And we’ve been moved by the kindness of strangers and neighbours alike, reminding us of the real power of local communities.
As a society, we’re experiencing an unprecedented moment in time – a rare chance to step off the treadmill and consider our lives and our futures.
In a recent survey, only 9% of people wanted to return to life just as it was pre COVID-19.
Because our old normal didn’t prioritise the things the majority of people actually value the most. But as Einstein famously said, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity”.
This is our chance not to go back to normal, but forward to better
Perhaps a crisis of this magnitude will enable us to reimagine our world and provide us with the opportunity to redesign it. We intend to grasp that opportunity with both hands. We believe that by working together – business, public sector, third sector and citizens – we can build an economy that’s better for everyone in Greater Manchester, and for our northern neighbours.
A future where business can still be profitable and sustainable, but not at any cost. Where the people who provide our food, clean our workplaces, empty our bins, deliver our parcels and look after us when we are ill – the services we too often took for granted – are treated and paid at a level that reflects the valuable roles they perform.
Where budding entrepreneurs of any age, stage and postcode can grasp the new business opportunities presented by the changing needs and behaviours that we will see emerging.
Where people can be employed in meaningful jobs and pursue their dream careers, but still have time left in their day to spend with family and friends.
Where young people can fulfil their true potential not pay the biggest price.
Where being digitally enabled means more fulfilling and better paid work, not displacing ‘costly’ people with inexpensive machines.
Where the world can watch and learn from us about how a growing and productive economy can provide a positive outcome for investors as well as for the planet.
In this emerging new world, the pillars of our Local Industrial Strategy – clean growth, digital, health innovation and advanced materials & manufaturing – feel more pertinent than ever, providing us with a strong strategic framework on which to begin building back.
We intend to begin the process of rewriting the goals and the rules for this new economy, now and together.
Supported by the GM LEP, Build Back Better is a movement of people and organisations who want to explore the opportunity to take stock, re-think and set a new course. If you’re a business that shares our ambition, please get in touch with your thoughts on what better looks like and how you can get involved in helping us to build a better future.
The Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership
Building Better with Business
“The COVID-19 crisis has tested us on every level and exposed weaknesses and divides in our economy and society. But it could allow us to make this a re-set moment if we so choose. This is a chance to change to a better path; to capture the benefits of this time we have been living through.
Working hand in hand with business, we believe we should:
Re-think the way we work so that work is better for everyone and lifts productivity: more home-working for those who want it; a more flexible working day; and, crucially, fairly-paid, secure work for everyone.
Re-think the way we care for people and the way we support those who provide care: accelerating the long-overdue reform of social care so that it creates an adequately-resourced system that can work to NHS standards; creating a new deal for social care workers; and giving the country a health and care system that supports all people in the same way, whether they have cancer or dementia.
Re-think the way we move around so that we cut congestion, air pollution and keep people active: more road space for cycling and walking; speeding up the reform of public transport systems; and funding for small businesses and the self-employed to switch to cleaner vehicles.
Re-think the way our economy works with more investment in future-facing industries and a new, devolved skills system to support it: accelerating the delivery of digital infrastructure in the more deprived areas; stimulating the green economy by kick-starting a major retrofitting programme of domestic properties; and refocusing and funding local industrial strategies.
Re-think the way we provide housing in this country, recognising how it has been much easier for some than others to “stay at home” and also how the virus has spread the most in areas where housing is poorest and most over-crowded, by: accelerating efforts to end the housing crisis, and stimulating the economy in the process, by freeing up councils to build new homes for social rent; requiring higherstandards of homes with the private-rented sector; and ending the need for rough sleeping by helping people who have been accommodated in recent weeks to make a permanent break from life on the streets.
Re-think the way the country works so that cities, towns can define Build Back Better for themselves: much greater devolution of power and funding; and the Government’s “levelling-up” agenda not delayed but accelerated.
If you support the call for a national movement and effort to capture these benefits, please sign up to help us Build Back Better.
Recovering from Covid will be a massive challenge but in recent weeks we’ve seen how quickly we can drive change when we turn our minds to it. But by building something better than we had before, it will give our country the hope it needs.”
“The Covid-19 crisis has reminded us who and what is important.
Our communities have shown incredible solidarity, coming together and supporting each other.
Key workers, who before this crisis were already undervalued and under-appreciated, have been our heroes on the frontline. We’ve relied on them more than ever as they keep the country moving. We owe it to them to ensure there is no return to business as usual.
But whilst the crisis is far from over, and there is work to be done in keeping everyone safe and in a job, it is becoming obvious that things need to change.
The challenges of the future are beginning to emerge – health as much as technology will change how we work, for example.
And those challenges that existed before Covid-19 – the quality of work, social care, the climate, public services and the economy – remain.
There is an opportunity for us to tackle these, benefiting workers and our communities. But it cannot be a restoration. Instead, we have to reimagine the world in which we live and work and seize the chance to build back better.
Trade unions across the North West are ready to be part of bringing about that change, and playing their part in the Build Back Better Campaign. Together, we can deliver the society we deserve.”