Report sets out Manchester’s road to recovery from coronavirus crisis

Report sets out Manchester’s road to recovery from coronavirus crisis

Coronavirus, Covid-19, NHS, Public Health, Economic response

A report to Manchester City Council’s Executive (which meets on Weds 6 May) sets out the next steps which will guide the city’s recovery from impacts of the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown.

It outlines the planning ahead work which is underway to help Manchester’s people, economy and businesses to rebuild as the city gradually emerges from lockdown. 

A separate report on the agenda sets out the range of actions the Council has already taken to support Manchester during the Covid-19 crisis. Many of these will need to continue as we we move from the response phase to recovery.

Planning is also underway to address the impact on the Council’s services and finances, with efforts across all workstreams overseen by a Covid-19 Recovery Co-ordination Group.

Manchester’s detailed recovery plans will complement a wider Greater Manchester plan and share the same goal – to build back better.

Many existing strategies will need to be refocused to reflect the radically changed context brought about by the pandemic. But the touchstone document guiding the city’s recovery will be a ‘reset’ Our Manchester Strategy, updating the vision behind Manchester’s drive to be a leading world city.

Manchester residents, businesses and other organisations including the community, voluntary and social enterprise sector will be invited to help shape this strategy together.

The UK is expected to experience an economic downturn far more severe than the 2008 crisis, with a marked increase in unemployment and many businesses going to the wall as a result of the huge disruption to economic activity. Many people and businesses are already feeling the financial impacts.

While it is still too early to understand the full impact, especially while the Government’s exit strategy remains unclear, planning is being based on a prudent assumption that a full recovery will take three to five years rather than being a quick bounceback. As such planning will need to be broken down into phases: during lockdown, post-lockdown, medium term and longer term.

A Manchester Economy Recovery Plan, which is dynamic and able to respond to evolving circumstances, is being developed. This will include looking at steps to support the city’s business base and help residents into employment while continuing to bring forward development and initiatives to stimulate the economy, particularly in areas where Manchester has world class strengths such as clean energy, advanced materials and life sciences.

Ensuring that public transport, and walking and cycling infrastructure, can support the city’s economy while accommodating social distancing measures is another major challenge.

As the sixth most deprived place in the country, based on 2019 national Index of Multiple Deprivation statistics, Manchester is likely to have a high number of people in need of ongoing support with basics such as food as well as medical needs.

A working group has already been formed with health and social care partners to identify those people most in need and it is likely that the Community Response Hub set up by the Council will need to stay in place for some time.

The Council itself will also need to confront significant financial pressures. It is estimated that the combined hit of increased costs and lost income will be more than £150m this year alone., with government Covid-19 funding (£33.756m so far) only covering a fraction of this. A revised budget for 2020-21 will be brought forward in July this year setting out how the Council intends to plug this gap.

Manchester City Council will work with other Greater Manchester local authorities, and the score Cities group of the largest UK cities outside London, to lobby the Government for the resources and policy interventions needed to support recovery.

Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Recovering from the impacts of the coronavirus period and getting the city back on a positive trajectory is the greatest challenge we have faced in our lifetimes. That’s why it’s so important that people are reassured that detailed planning has already begun.

“We are under no illusion of the scale of the task but also that, as with any crisis, there are also opportunities to capture new and better ways of doing things.

“We will be working closely with Manchester residents and businesses, as well as health services and other partner organisations including the voluntary and community sector, to keep this great city moving forwards. We want to ensure that nobody gets left behind and everybody can contribute to the recovery.”

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