Manchester City Council

Councillor Sheila Newman

Our sympathies are with the family and friends of Councillor Sheila Newman, Executive Member for Children’s Services and current Lady Mayoress of Manchester, who passed away on 18 February.

Read our tribute.


The Council & democracy Economy Scrutiny Committee's Investigations

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21/6/2017 - Family Poverty Strategy

At our meeting June we considered a report on the rationale, development and process that had taken place to complete the Manchester Family Poverty Strategy 2017/22.  The report explained how the Strategy supported the delivery of the Our Manchester Strategy and in particular how the new Our Manchester approach had been used to develop the Strategy in conjunction with existing data and intelligence.  Once adopted, the Strategy would provide an overarching framework and priorities for the City Council and partners from all sectors over the next five years to improve outcomes for children by decreasing risk and increasing resilience. 

Members commented that it was pleasing to see that previous comments made by the Committee had been incorporated into the final draft of the Strategy, specifically in relation to smoking.  However, despite this, there was no reference to a better health lifestyle from the consultation with residents.

Members asked what role schools could play in helping address family poverty, as there was a potential conflict between the strategy and some school targets, such as attendance and associated incentives, which would potentially exclude some pupils as there would be an expectation of a final contribution from families towards certain incentives (eg school trips).. Members asked  further questions around the issue of adults re-entering work where there was limited childcare available in the area they lived and poor public transport and connectivity options which would subsequently impact on the hours these residents were able to work.

The Committee was advised that there were intrinsic links between poverty and health related issues, such as mental health, and although the responses from residents, as outlined in the report, did not specifically reference health improvements, a number of the suggestions put forward had underlying wider determinants of health improvement.  Officers advised the Commitee that it was important that the strategy linked into the strategy for the Local Care Organisation so that the focus was on the prevention of poverty.
It was also acknowledged that connectivity and transport were very important and a piece of work was being undertaken between the Council and the University of Sheffield around transport being a barrier to accessing employment, which would be reported back to the Committee.  There were upcoming opportunities with the Buses Bill which would allow the Council to improve access to jobs across the City and the wider conurbation.  In relation to schools, it was reported that there was a need for further work to take place, especially where schools offered incentives to meet school targets which were linked to a requirement for families to provide a financial contribution.  It was agreed that the strategy would be shared with the Strategic Education Partnership.

The Committee agreed to endorse the Strategy and requested that upon completion that it ws to be shared with all Members.  The Committee also agreed to look at careers advice and guidance for young people from a skills perspective, curriculum for life, welfare reform and tackling poverty premium at future meetings.


Summary of 2016/17 

Over the year, Economy Scrutiny Committee has considered a wide range of issues focusing on economic growth, skills development and employment.

In May 2016, the Committee re-established the District Centres Subgroup, which is contributing to the development of a strategy for Manchester’s district centres.  Having commenced work in the previous municipal year, the Subgroup held four further meetings this year, considering research from the Institute of Place Management, which is working in partnership with the Council on the development of the strategy and information from a range of other sources.  At its November meeting, it invited a range of guests, including representatives of traders’ organisation and markets, to give evidence.  Having considering all the information received, the Subgroup has recommended that officers, under the guidance of  the Deputy Leader, progress the work on district centres, taking into the account the Subgroup’s views.  It is proposed that the Subgroup be re-established later in the 2017/2018 municipal year to review the work that has taken place.  The Subgroup’s meeting papers can be accessed here. [link] 

In June 2016, the Committee held a themed meeting on the digital economy, focusing on digital skills and the digital infrastructure. They heard evidence from a range of external guests and passed a number of recommendations on digital skills to the Executive. The Committee also recommended that the District Centres Subgroup consider the digital infrastructure of district centres, particularly provision for start-up businesses. The Committee will continue to investigate this area of work in future meetings, including considering the revised Digital Strategy. 

The Committee has also considered the budget savings options for the next three years in relation to services within their remit and made a number of recommendations which were taken into account in the decisions on the final budget proposals.  

In March 2017, the Committee held a themed meeting on Women and the Economy, to coincide with International Women’s Day.  The meeting focused on the key issues facing women in Manchester in relation to their participation and progression in the local labour market across a number of key life stages for women from the age 14 through to retirement. The Committee welcomed a number of guests with expertise in education, skills, and barriers to the labour market, business and leadership who were invited to join the discussion and shared their knowledge and experience.  The Committee made a number of recommendations address the issues raised and will continue to scrutinise this issue at a future meeting.

1/2/2017 - Corridor Manchester

The Committee considered a report that provided an overview of the activities of the Corridor Manchester partnership during 2016.  It was reported that key investments into the partnership were estimated to reach £2.3 billion by 2020.  The Committee was informed as to the substantial contribution Corridor Manchester made towards Manchester’s economic output.

Members asked questions about progress in terms of providing car parking spaces on the site, and if people were not going to drive how would they access the site. In connection to this Members also asked what provision was proposed to extend the cycle lane network to other parts of the city. 

The Committee also asked how the Corridor was being branded. In response Officers said that work was taking place regarding the creation of a brand identity with a consultant to best capitalise on the opportunity Oxford Road presents.

Members asked what work was being done to connect the Corridor to other parts of the city including North Manchester, citing the cancellation of the cross city number 42 bus service as one such issue. In response the Leader said that work was currently under way to increase cross city bus connectivity, and that soon, the 42 bus would be able to run down Rochdale road to the University.  Following this a Members raised concern  that Transport for Greater Manchester (TFGM) had proposed no action to solve this problem, and recommended that the Council enquired with TFGM regarding possible action that could be taken. 

Members asked how health devolution was going to be used to take up new medicine and medical technologies in the city. In response the Leader said that this issue had to be seen in the wider context of the Teaching Hospitals in Greater Manchester. He added that one of the work streams for the health and social care devolution plan was innovation and was hoped to increase Manchester’s footprint in this area. Health Innovation Manchester was expected to give a report to the Strategic Partnership Board of its progress to date on this issue. 

Members asked what had been done regarding the development of job opportunities and career pathways along Corridor Manchester for local people, as well as what was being done with apprenticeships. Officers advised that the apprentice levy presented a massive opportunity along the Corridor.

Members said they it was positive to read that Manchester Metropolitan University would be employing local people, and asked that in future such data be gathered regarding other major employers in the city. In response the Leader said that Manchester Metropolitan University were a great example of a large organisation employing local people, with over 3000 jobs offered through the charity The Works, and that their was a focus with Corridor Manchester on local jobs for local people. 

Members commented that Brexit was likely to impact those working on Corridor Manchester in science and innovation. 

The Chair commented that the report, although extensive, did not provide any kind of benchmarking to substantiate the statistics it contained, and asked that a report be brought back about the level of jobs, career entry pathways and other employment issues along Corridor Manchester. Finally she commented that it was important that the cities major institutions were engaging with local residents through employment. 

4/1/2017 - The Factory Project and its Impact on the Development of the Creative and Media Sector

Ii January the Committee considered a report on the outcome of a public consultation exercise with local residents, businesses and stakeholders on the revised St. John’s Strategic Regeneration Framework.  the Committee also looked at what progress had been made in taking forward proposals for Factory Manchester.

In considering the report Members queried how the Factory was unique from other arts venues in Manchester.  They also asked how it was intended to keep the Manchester International Festival fresh. In response Officers discussed how the architectural design of the building allowed for multiple configurations of its space, utilising both the large warehouse space and auditorium in a variety of formations. Because of the venues ability to be configured in multiple formations it was unique not only in Manchester, but possibly the world and they were unaware of any other venue like it. Following this the Committee was informed that the Factory will be the home of the Manchester International Festival and help drive their focus of premiering world class art and performance.  

Members asked questions around how many people were employed currently by the Factory and what number this would reach when the venue was fully operational.   The Committee was pleased to note that the Factory will employ 125 individuals in core jobs, as well as create a further 265 jobs with associated employers via sub-contracted services like security and catering. It was also noted that the Factory was committed to employing 15 full time apprentices each year, as well as supporting a further 35 apprentices in collaboration with others across the city, which  was part of a strategy to create career paths for individuals to get into the arts industry without requiring then to move to London for relevant training and experience.

Members also asked what the position of the project was in relation to fundraising. Officers informed the Committee that a fundraising strategy had been developed, that meetings with the heads of key trusts and foundations had been set up, and that following this the process of approaching high net worth individuals would begin. 

The Committee scrutinised whether any of the residential units in the St. John’s development would be subsidised or sold at a reduced cost for key workers. The Committee welcomed that there would be a broad mix of housing in terms of the size of units and costing. 

24/11/2016 - District Centres Subgroup

 The Committee’s District Centres Subgroup is contributing to the development of a strategy for Manchester’s district centres.  The Subgroup has held three meetings so far and has considered a range of information, including research from the Institute of Place Management, which is working in partnership with the Council on the development of the strategy.  At its last meeting, members reviewed the current provision of district centres and proposals for future housing development and transport investment and recommended that more district centres are needed in the north and east of the city, where the population is growing.  For its next meeting, the Subgroup has invited a range of guests, including representatives of traders’ associations and markets, and will use evidence from these guests to identify what factors are important for the location of a district centre and how the Council can effectively support businesses in district centres. 

22/06/2016 - Digital Economy 

In June, the Committee held a themed meeting on the digital economy, focusing on digital skills and the digital infrastructure. They heard evidence from a range of external guests and passed a number of recommendations on digital skills to the Executive. The Committee also recommended that the District Centres Subgroup consider the digital infrastructure of district centres, particularly provision for start-up businesses. The Committee will continue to investigate this area of work in future meetings, including considering the revised Digital Strategy.


Summary of 2015/16

Over the year, Economy Scrutiny Committee has considered a wide range of issues focussing on economic growth, skills development and employment.  Members have contributed to the development of a number of important strategies for the Council and the city including the Manchester Draft Work and Skills Strategy, the Manchester Strategy, the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework and the Core Strategy, the City Centre Strategic Plan 2015/2018, the Residential Growth Strategy, and the Greater Manchester Transport Strategy 2040.  The Committee has dedicated a number of meetings to scrutinising programmes to support Manchester residents into education and employment and heard from participants about their experiences. 

Earlier in the year the Committee considered the Council's draft Living Wage Policy which had been produced as a result of the recommendations of the Final Report of the Living Wage Task and Finish Group, which was a previous Subgroup of the Economy Scrutiny Committee.  The Final Report can be accessed here.  Members welcomed the draft policy, made comment, and requested that officers undertake further work with the Manchester Airport Group to identify whether they could replicate the Council's work in using procurement policies and other strategies to promote the adoption of the Manchester Living Wage and reduce the use of zero hours contracts. 

The Committee established a Tax Avoidance Task and Finish Group to explore how the Council could use its influence to combat tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance and what practical measures the Council could take.  The Final Report can be accessed here.  Following the Committee's scrutiny of a report on district centres members agreed that they wanted to see more detailed work around this;  and recommended that the Council produce an overarching strategy for district centres.  The Committee established a District Centres Subgroup to contribute to and monitor this work which is expected to commence in the new municipal year. 

In January, the Committee considered reports on the European City of Science, EuroScience Open Forum and related events such as the Great Science Share.  The Committee made recommendations on how these events could be promoted and agreed to continue to scrutinise how residents would benefit from job opportunities in this area and develop the skills needed to do so.

27/01/2016 - District Centres

At its meeting on 30 September 2015, the Committee considered a report about the changing role of district centres in Manchester and recommended that the Council produce an overarching strategy for district centres. In January 2016, the Committee formally established a subgroup to contribute to and review this work and agreed the subgroup's objectives and key lines of enquiry.  The Committee will receive regular updates on the subgroup's work through the minutes.

16/12/2015 - Manchester Strategy

The Committee considered the proposed Manchester Strategy 2016-2025 in both September and December 2015.  The Strategy provides the overarching framework and priorities for action by the City Council and partners from all sectors over the next 10 years and replaces the existing Community Strategy.  Members broadly supported the Strategy but recommended that it recognised older people as an asset to the city.  Members also emphasised the importance of tackling poverty and deprivation and being able to clearly measure how well the city is achieving its objectives.  The Committee's recommendations were submitted to the Executive, to be taken into account as the final amendments were made. 

24/06/15 - Economic impact of Culture on the City

At the June meeting the Committee heard from Nick Merriman, Director of the Manchester Museum who delivered a presentation entitled 'The impact of Manchester's Cultural Organisations'. He described that the key findings of the report included that across the city 16 leading institutions supported 221 employees and received 4.5 millions visitors per annum, 671,000 of which were overnight visitors. Members agreed that there is a need to promote and build Manchester's brand in order to compete with the number of visitors in other cities. The Committee welcomed the success of the organisations and events captured in the report. The Executive Member for Culture and Leisure suggested a future report should include the benefits to residents of the cultural offer within the city which the Committee agreed to. 


Get Involved

To find out more information have a look at our full work programme. This includes what topics we will be looking at, what specific issues we will be considering and who we will be hearing from. Please bear in mind that the programme is continually updated, and so dates and agenda items may change from those listed in the programme.

If there's an issue you want to contribute to, let us know. You can either send a written contribution to or you can attend a meeting and ask the Chair if you can speak. You can also suggest a topic for us to look into by filling in our 'suggestions form.'

If you want to speak to somebody about contributing to the committee, please call our scrutiny support officer on 0161 234 4997 or e mail

Role of the Committee









Our main priority as members of the Economy Scrutiny Committee is to look at the issues that affect the Manchester's economy and how these issues affect the city's residents. We work closely with the Council and its partners to ensure that they are doing everything they can to maximise the benefits for residents from improvements to the economy and to ensure that they are protected in less prosperous times.

Our areas of interest include economic growth, strategic transport, employment and skills development, tourism and the regeneration of neighbourhoods.

Through this page you'll be able to keep in touch with what we've been doing, find out what we'll be investigating over the next few months and how you can get involved.

Councillor Suzanne Richards, Chair of the Economy Scrutiny Committee.

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