Greater Manchester: making growth more inclusive and addressing the productivity challenge

Darra Singh writes about his appointment to a panel overseeing the support of communities building a stronger, safer Greater Manchester

By Darra Singh

03 Jul 2018

I am very pleased to be appointed to the expert panel that is overseeing the development of the evidence base for Greater Manchester’s local industrial strategy, where I am contributing with my views on public service reform and discussing change in the Greater Manchester economy.  

Nearly 10 years ago, a similar panel for the Manchester Independent Economic Review (MIER) helped inform decision-making and policy choices regarding future priorities, by providing a better understanding of how regional economies grow. They set the course for the last decade’s worth of strategies for local economic growth and public service reform in Greater Manchester.

Ten years later, Manchester remains the leading city for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the UK outside London as reported in EY’s 2018 attractiveness survey, which was published last month. Like London, Manchester achieved only a modest increase in foreign investment projects, but it still secured 16 more FDI projects than the second-placed city. Much remains to be done, however, to ensure that growth works for all of GM’s people and places.

Inclusive growth

Greater Manchester’s Mayor Andy Burnham was elected last year on a manifesto that emphasised the need for more inclusive forms of growth. The current panel aims to help achieve this, by linking up public services so they deliver better outcomes for the people of Greater Manchester.

The panel will give an independent view of how the world has changed over the last 10 years, since the original MIER report was published, and identify priorities for Greater Manchester’s industrial strategy. Manchester has been selected as a trail-blazer for the UK Industrial strategy, so the panel will discuss how to make sure Manchester is at forefront of the industries of the future.

The productivity puzzle

Like the rest of the UK, Manchester is struggling with low productivity growth. At the first meeting the panel discussed one of the key challenges, which was what the dominant ways of measuring productivity do and do not tell us about GM’s ‘productivity puzzle’ and what implications are for an approach to supporting the development of better quality work. Over the next six months, a team combining the analytical strengths of Greater Manchester’s Combined Authority, Whitehall departments and academia will be working with the panel to address these and other issues and drawing out the implications for local industrial strategy.

The Future

I’m excited to be involved in shaping Greater Manchester’s future and supporting the development of one of the UK’s first local industrial strategies.

If you’d like know more about this please drop me a line on

Darra Singh is head of government and public sector at EY

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