Manchester Law Society City Council Lunch

By Julie Mogan, Regional Director at Excello Law and Member of the Manchester Law Society Council

It was a pleasure to attend a lunch hosted by Manchester Law Society on 15th February where Manchester City Council Leader, Bev Craig addressed members, partners, and friends of the Society. Bev explained that the Council have recently spent time engaging with children and young people in the City and asking them directly what they want, with a key message received in response being that the younger generation want us all to “cheer up” and be more positive about the future.

Bev outlined her vision and optimism for Manchester whilst also highlighting the various challenges faced by the city and its residents, particularly the shocking statistics around the number of young people living in poverty.  The cost-of-living crisis continues to present a huge challenge, but there are plans in progress to upskill residents to help with future growth. The overall growth trajectory is positive and ambitions to meet net zero targets , build  a mix of affordable and higher end housing and generally to make the city a more attractive place to work, live and visit were all well received by the audience .To attract external  investment  the Council have also been taking “brand Manchester “into the international arena, where it is good to know that the City has an external image of stability even in the current environment of social and political uncertainty.

Current focus is around economic growth and Bev highlighted how important young people are to the future success of the city. It was good to hear that around 50 % of students who study in Manchester are choosing to stay. However, the Pandemic negatively impacted the labour market and many 16–18-year-olds coming into the workforce are having to take very low paid work as the opportunities which were available to them pre-Pandemic are currently taken by older workers and a skills gap is making matters worse. A more inclusive approach is needed around all this ,with employers being encouraged to pay a real living wage and to ensure recruitment from a diversity of postcode areas.

MLS CEO Fran Eccles- Bech asked what businesses could do collaborate and to help young people to achieve the necessary skills which Bev had outlined. It seems that the Council are setting up a brokerage system whereby Council staff will communicate with the City’s businesses to suggest how they can best assist, so we can look forward to hearing more about this soon. Bev explained that it is vital to balance the aspirations of the City’s youngsters against the expectations of their parents and communities and schools might therefore be the best places for businesses to hold these types of discusssions.

The Society’s new President David Anderson asked about the priorities for Manchester and whilst there are many, housing was raised again and particularly the need to obtain central government backing for regeneration schemes such as Victoria North, plus a general acceleration of building projects. Perhaps the biggest message to communicate is that the city needs to ensure it works across and with national government departments to achieve the best for its regional growth.

Thanks must be given to the staff at Manchester Hall for providing us with such a magnificent venue and a wonderful lunch.