As Minister for the Northern Powerhouse and a northern MP it makes me proud to see how Greater Manchester continues to develop and thrive.
From the bright lights of Media City UK, which I visited last week, to the cranes towering over the city skyline it is obvious that Greater Manchester is a place attracting significant investment.
But the Government wants to help Greater Manchester achieve even more and we are backing this ambition with additional funding through the Budget announced by the Chancellor last month.
As a Mayoral Combined Authority, Greater Manchester was one of the first areas to receive a devolved grant from the Transforming Cities Fund, which is designed to get people to work, schools and shops more quickly to unlock productivity and help boost economic growth in Greater Manchester and across the whole of the Northern Powerhouse.
The Transforming Cities Fund brings a total investment in Greater Manchester to £312.5m over the next four and a half years, helping to cut congestion, fund innovate schemes like the Beelines cycle network and continue to further improvements to commuter journeys.
Extending the Transforming Cities Fund for a year to 2022-23 means Greater Manchester will receive an extra £69.5m to support the development of transport projects and we announced £20m to boost skills, including £10m to support important training opportunities for self-employed people.
The digital sector is one of Manchester’s success stories. There are almost 8,000 digital creative businesses in the Greater Manchester city region employing more than 80,000 people and generating £4.1bn of annual output but there’s more to do.
In the Budget we announced up to £3m to meet pressing digital skills needs of employers in Manchester and surrounding areas. The Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport will work with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to pilot a programme to invest, with employers, in pre-employment training “bootcamps” to enable businesses to find people with the digital skills they need to grow.
And for young people not currently in employment, education or training in Greater Manchester £7m match funding alongside employers to provide on-the-job training.
Improving connections between towns and cities across the North is central to the Government’s vision for a stronger Northern economy.
And making sure the North has strong worldwide connections is also vital which is why I was so pleased to see the first direct flights from Manchester to Mumbai take off last week.
It is estimated that linking Manchester to India’s economic capital could unlock an additional £400m in GDP for the North and create 2,000 jobs across the Northern Powerhouse over the next five years.
This is fantastic news for Manchester and I look forward to working with local leaders, businesses and, of course, the members of our Northern Powerhouse Partners programme, to drive growth not just in this region but across the whole of the Northern Powerhouse.