CBI urges metro mayors to work towards sustainable and inclusive recovery

Damian Waters

Bosses’ organisation the CBI has called on the incoming metro mayors for Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester to champion sustainable and inclusive recovery.

Both regions are holding ballots for the posts, currently held by Steve Rotheram and Andy Burnham, respectively, on May 6.

The North West CBI says whoever is confirmed as metro mayor following the ballots must focus on boosting productivity, tackling skills shortages, ending income inequalities and improving connectivity across the regions.

It calls for vision and ambition in Liverpool to turbocharge the COVID recovery and lay the foundations for sustainable, long-term prosperity for a “unique, hardworking and culturally vibrant” region.

Creating a welcoming business environment is a priority. This includes overcoming skills shortages and pockets of low productivity, while attracting inward investment and driving improvement in physical infrastructure and digital connectivity which can also be transformational.

Efforts to address poor health outcomes – worsened by the pandemic – can reintegrate high numbers of economically ‘inactive’ people back into the region’s workforce.

Damian Waters, CBI North West director, said: “To address the short term challenges of COVID-19, and turn the Liverpool City Region into a healthier, more productive, and thriving place, the metro mayor must develop and champion a strong economic vision.

“It should consider how to turbo-charge the recovery, and must enable businesses to succeed, allowing the region to shift from its reliance on public sector employment, and to grow the private sector. This should recognise that a strong economy that delivers growth and good jobs can raise living standards and wages for all.

“To be a success, this requires renewed partnership. The metro mayor should work collaboratively with businesses, neighbouring authorities, unions and the third sector, as well as all parts of government to revive and thrive in the future.”

Addressing the next metro mayor of Greater Manchester, Mr Waters said the region should “consider how to turbo-charge recovery planning, focusing on key projects and outcomes.

“This economic vision must enable businesses to succeed, and recognise that a strong economy which delivers shared growth and good jobs can raise living standards and wages for all.

“To be a success, this requires a renewed partnership, which builds on the collaboration we have seen throughout the pandemic. The metro mayor should work collaboratively with businesses, neighboring authorities, unions and the third sector, as well as all parts of government to revive the economy and thrive in the future.”

He added: “Business is ready to step up and support in this endeavour, working closely with the metro mayor to develop and embed this economic vision.”

The CBI manifesto spells out how businesses and the newly-elected mayors can work in tandem to drive recovery and capitalise on strengths in sectors like health and life sciences, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and advance manufacturing to create a powerful and equitable economy rich in industries of the future.

It has identified three key principles and a series of recommendations which it says should shape the new mayors’ term in office.

  • Champion regional dynamism and global competitiveness to raise living standards. Establish a strong economic vision, working with partners in public and private sectors to enable businesses of all sizes to thrive. Promote the region on a worldwide stage to attract inward investment, grow export opportunities and market the region as a global destination. Target R&D investment to drive culture of innovation, supported by increased collaboration between business, academia and government
  • Transform digital and physical infrastructure on the race to net zero. Back carbon reduction ambitions by focusing on green projects and funding to build a sustainable future. Lead an environmental agenda which future proofs the region by placing net zero at the heart of a long-term economic vision. Drive meaningful improvement and green investment in jobs, housing, transport and digitisation across the region
  • Stimulate job creation and secure an inclusive future workforce. Front the re-training and re-skilling agenda to target skills gaps and feed future industries. Champion diversity and inclusion to boost social mobility and ensure opportunity for younger generations and minority groups. Deliver projects that result in the creation of good jobs at pace, enabling business to attract and retain good talent.

Together, the CBI believes these actions can address inequalities and equip the region with the infrastructure, talent and investment needed to thrive through post-pandemic recovery and beyond.