Major £8.8bn recovery plan for Merseyside would create over 100,000 jobs

240720 Liverpool skyline PA
A coronavirus economic recovery plan which would create over 100,000 jobs across the whole of the Liverpool City Region has been revealed by Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram. Credit: PA

A coronavirus economic recovery plan which would create over 100,000 jobs across the whole of the Liverpool City Region has been revealed by Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram.

Billed as 'Building Back Better', the plan has been submitted to central government, and sets out how a £1.4bn investment could unlock projects worth £8.8bn and begin in the next 12 months.

Rotheram has said it is an "ambitious plan", but he remains "undimmed" that the plan would create a "globally competitive, environmentally responsible and socially inclusive economy".

The proposals are based around four themes - the business ecosystem, people-focused recovery, place, and a green recovery.

It has been backed by high-profile figures from business, academia, the social economy, the public sector and trades unions.

The proposals have identified a near 40 fully-costed "shovel-ready" schemes, as well as medium and long-term projects, including the Mersey Tidal Power project, which would be play a "key role" in the region's recovery and create 94,000 permanent jobs with a further 28,000 in construction.

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor, Liverpool City Region Credit: LCR

Announcing the plans, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram said:

“This pandemic has rocked us all and we still face tough times ahead, but my ambition to build a globally competitive, environmentally responsible and socially inclusive economy for the whole of our region remains undimmed.

“Before COVID-19, the city region’s growth rate of 3.5% was much higher than national levels, with well-above average productivity growth based on ten years of strong economic progress. We will build on these solid foundations.

“Alongside our strengths, we know that we still face hugely significant underlying challenges in health, education and skills and economic inactivity in our communities. Our recovery plan is focused on tackling these challenges and supporting the people of our city region – tackling inequality, creating jobs, supporting businesses, driving innovation, building new homes, and giving people the skills, they need to fulfil their ambitions.

“The challenge ahead is beyond the capabilities of any one city region, or any one organisation, to deal with alone. It is only by working together, with all of our partners across the city region and with government, that we will prevail and Build Back Better than ever.”

Projects include:

  • Manufacturing Technology Centre’s (MTC) radical innovation of Modern Methods of Construction (£155 million programme), Liverpool

Research and tech company MTC say the project will lead to infrastructure projects being built 50% faster with a 33% cost reduction. Credit: LCRCA

MTC is an independent research and technology company - it aims to help bridge the gap between academic and industry, through helping companies manufacture faster at higher qualities and lower cost.

Charlie Whitford, Associate Director of Strategic Development, MTC says the project will see infrastructure projects built "up 50% faster" with an estimated "33% reduction" in costing and will be more "eco-friendly".

  • Glass Futures (£54m project), St Helens

A 90,000 square foot facility in St Helens will centre around a 30 tonne/day low carbon demonstration furnace. Credit: LCR

As one of the UK's major glass container manufacturers, the £54m project will see the construction of a 90,000 square foot facility in St Helens, and will centre around a 30 tonne/day low carbon demonstration furnace - currently glass manufacturing practices are currently responsible for 2million tonnes of CO2 per annum in the UK.

  • Shakespeare North Playhouse (£3m), Knowsley

The £3m Shakespeare North Playhouse in Prescot will open in 2022. Credit: LCR

The theatre is scheduled to open in 2022 and will have the capacity to hold between 320 and 472 seats, providing a range of contemporary events, performances and educational opportunities.

The combined authority is asking the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), for an additional £3m to secure the project’s construction delivery.

It has been described as a "once in a lifetime project" and will celebrate Knowsley's links - via the Earls of Derby - to Shakespeare.

  • Southport Theatre and Convention Centre (£70m project), Sefton

A £70m project will replace Southport's existing theatre and conference centre. Credit: LCR

The £70m project will replace Southport's existing theatre and conference centre to add £25m per annum to the local economy which will "catalyse the transformation of the town centre, culminating in a new “Southport Square”.

But, the combined authority say the scale of the project, and the impact it can create, "requires a greater public investment than £25m".

  • The LCR Hydrogen Economy Programme (£600m programme), Halton

The combined authority will procure 40 hydrogen buses and a hydrogen refuelling station. Credit: LCR

As part of a £600m prorgramme for a zero-carbon economy, the combined authority will start with the procurement of 40 hydrogen buses and a hydrogen refuelling station in Halton, at a cost of £27.8m which will be in operation by late 2021.

  • National Packaging Innovation Centre (NPIC) (£60m project), Wirral

Plans are being developed with Unilever to develop an innovation centre. Credit: LCR

In partnership with Unilever, plans are being developed for an international open-access innovation centre which will focus on sustainable packaging solutions.

If successful, it is said the centre would enable the "UK to further anchor itself into the global £1 trillion packaging market".

The combined authority has also proposed to work with the government on "people-focused" projects which would concentrate on employment, skills, health and inequality.

They include:

  • A fully funded September Offer for school leavers to have a funded place in education, a job with training, apprenticeship or training programme, with increased levels of bursary funds for providers to respond to needs.

  • A young person’s guarantee, ensuring that those aged under 25 who have been out of work for more than 6 months can get training, an apprenticeship or a job: this will require the delivery of substantial numbers of Kickstarter jobs in the City Region.

  • Creation of increased numbers of apprenticeships (including degree apprenticeships and with increased focus on digital and agile skills) through incentives for businesses and further flexibilities around use of the apprenticeship levy.

  • A clearly evidenced, business led skills programme to deliver recovery as set out in the Association of Colleges Rebuild report.

  • A digital skills programme to retrain businesses and workers for an increasingly digital world.

  • A national digital poverty programme, which improves access to digital connectivity and devices for those that need it.

  • A community and voluntary sector resilience programme which provides the right infrastructure and financial resource for the sector to engage with those impacted by the pandemic.

  • An enhanced schools catch-up programme to help pupils make up the lost learning, to ensure that young people are not permanently disadvantaged.

  • A Liverpool City Region creative curriculum to capture the talent of young people in the City Region.

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