Burnham to ‘fix the fundamentals’ with election promise on skills and housing

Andy Burnham launches his 2024 manifesto

Andy Burnham launched his bid to be Greater Manchester Mayor for a third term with a pledge to “fix the fundamentals” by tackling the housing crisis, the benefits system and putting a new Manchester curriculum co-created with employers, at centre stage.

He also made a direct plea to business to get on board with his devolved Greater Manchester Baccalaureate (MBacc) for technical education, “my personal mission,” he said, to offer a skills and training pathway for the 62% of school children in the city region who don’t pursue a university education, claiming the policy was one of the most popular he’d ever come up with.

“We’ve had incredible support from businesses big and small across Greater Manchester, with people crying out for this change. 

“Actually, it’s one of the few things I’ve done in my political career, where people have really gravitated towards very quickly, everyone feels it’s right. 

“Where  I want to get to, with the MBacc, is enough placements attached to T levels and other qualifications so that kids are applying to those companies who sign up, whether that be Siemens, or the BBC, or Deloitte or the Bank of New York. 

“The ask of business is to bring forward those offers of those work placements and get on board with it quickly.”

He added: “If you look at our economy, the need for talent, the vacancy rate that we have in some of our industries, we need to get much better at pulling this talent through. So it’s almost an economic necessity to get employers much closer to young people and much closer to the education system.”

On Thursday 2 May residents across Greater Manchester will be electing local councillors and the Mayor of Greater Manchester. Salford residents will also be electing the Salford City Mayor, currently Labour’s Paul Dennett, who hosted Burnham’s launch event yesterday.

Burnham’s campaign launch, held at the iconic Salford Lads Club, featured on the inside cover of The Smiths album The Queen Is Dead, a Burnham favourite, was peppered with references to conversations between the national Labour front bench and Burnham’s team.

“There is no better place than this to launch a manifesto with working class aspiration at its heart,” he said.

The actual physical manifesto will be released at a later date, said a member of his team.

First elected in 2017 as Greater Manchester’s first directly elected Mayor, and re-elected in 2021, Burnham claimed his third term would be his most audacious and ambitious yet, having brought buses under public control and reformed the Greater Manchester Police which he claimed were his two biggest successes to date.

He said: “our economy is growing faster than the UK average, you only have to see the skyline to see the confidence of this place.”

Nevertheless, he also said he wanted to reform the benefits system and offer a brighter future for young people, in partnership with a Labour government in Westminster. 

“I want everyone to grow up with a path before them and see themselves part of the success story that is Greater Manchester,” he said.

He also said a Good Landlord Charter would take action against rogue landlords. “The days of renting out properties that pose a risk to our residents are coming to an end,” he said.

Other pledges included extending subsidised travel for 18-21 year olds, a deal with Credit Unions across the city region to offer interest free loans to residents for travel passes, and for eight commuter rail lines to come under the Bee Network as part of a future Labour government taking the railways into public ownership.

“Isn’t it about time the railways were run for people, not profit,” he said.

Asked whether he was eyeing a fourth or even a fifth term, he tactfully said he was concentrating on winning to serve the next four year term, but added that he was more energised about the job than ever.