Greater Manchester’s new era: Mayor Andy Burnham sets out post-pandemic vision for city-region

His pledges include £2 bus fares, plans to make homes carbon neutral and paying social care workers the Real Living Wage.

Andy Burnham says he has been ‘careful’ about the commitments he has made after setting out his post-pandemic vision for Greater Manchester.

The mayor made a series of announcements in Manchester city centre on Monday, including that bus fares would be capped to £2 for adults and £1 for children under a new system which is set to be rolled out from Autumn 2023.

It comes after an historic legal ruling last week which allows the city-region to be the first outside of London to take control of its bus services for decades.

The Labour mayor also announced that all councils have now committed to paying social care workers the Real Living Wage – but no date has been set.

Mayor of Great Manchester, Andy Burnham

A new Retrofit Accelerator will support people to take action to retrofit their homes and help the city-region meet the aim of being carbon neutral by 2038.

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And Mr Burnham said that an implementation plan for the previously-announced pledge to build 30,000 net zero social rented homes will be revealed this year.

What has the Mayor announced?

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service after the ‘New Era’ event at Mayfield Depot, the mayor said that some of the proposals will require government backing – but he has made these promises ‘very carefully’.

He said: “We’re getting on and doing lots of things, levelling ourselves up without waiting for the government to come in and do it for us.”

The mayor said it is ‘disgraceful’ that care workers are not paid the real living wage so councils have committed to addressing that from their own budgets.

He also said that the capped bus fares will not require government funding.

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Buses in Piccadily in Manchester. Photo: David Dixon

And he denied that scrapping charges planned as part of the Clean Air Zone will affect finances, insisting the money raised from the scheme which is currently being reviewed would been spent on upgrading to cleaner vehicles.

Speaking about the capped bus fares, he said: “I’ve made a firm commitment today. We’re going to do it.

“It was the point of taking control of our buses. There were a number of reasons, but one of the big reasons to do this was to lower fares.

“Now we’ve got that control, I’m just not wasting any time. I’m saying to people we are going to lower fares.”

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Speaking to an audience at Freight Island, the Merseyside-born mayor spoke about growing up in the region at a time when ‘to get on you had to go South’.

He paid tribute to Sir Richard Leese, who recently stood down as Manchester council leader after 25 years in the role, for bringing investment into the city-region together with former council chief executive Sir Howard Bernstein.

And he spoke of the success of Salford Quays as a period when prosperity spread outside of the city-centre – but he said that much of this growth attracted people from elsewhere with locals not necessarily benefiting.

However, he told the audience Greater Manchester is now entering a new era.

He said: “This is an era when we make the best use of our most valuable asset and that is our people in all of its diversity, encouraging all of our young people from all backgrounds to fulfil their true potential.

“And I think that is when this place will actually fire on all cylinders and will punch with its full weight.”