Greater Manchester Business Board responds to the Autumn Statement 2023, delivered today (Wednesday 22 November) by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Greater Manchester Business Board is committed to driving economic growth across the city-region and delivering a green, fairer and more prosperous Greater Manchester.

We therefore welcome the announcement of a new Investment Zone for Greater Manchester in today’s Autumn Statement as a significant boost for our advanced manufacturing and materials sector. We expect the Investment Zone to create 32,000 jobs and leverage £1.1 billion of private sector investment.

We look forward to working with Government to ensure the £160 million of flexible funding announced today is deployed to best effect, and we welcome the initial private sector investments worth over £10m from Kadant, Werit, First Graphene and Hydrograph.

The commitment of £4.5 billion for strategic manufacturing sectors is linked to the focus of our Investment Zone, and the commitment to the scaling of the Made Smarter Adoption programme – which was piloted by GMCA and GM Business Growth Hub – is a welcome response to the demand from Greater Manchester manufacturing companies for support in the adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies, which are critical to the gains in productivity needed to for sustainable economic growth.

The extension of full cost expensing reflects our own approach to unlocking investment in our frontier sectors as set out in our Local Industrial Strategy and Local Innovation Plan. The forthcoming Battery Strategy, Hydrogen Industry Taskforce and Advanced Manufacturing Plan will enhance the approach we have taken with key assets such as the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre, Henry Royce Institute, Atom Valley and MediaCity and help drive forward the future of advanced manufacturing in the UK.

Essential to the success of our Investment Zone, and the development of the other frontier parts of our economy, will be their ability to compete internationally and for the city-region to attract inward investment and develop international partnerships and deals. We are therefore pleased to see Government endorse the Harrington Review into Foreign Direct Investment, which recommends building on existing best practice, the success of the Metro Mayors and the trailblazer Devolution Deal Greater Manchester signed with Government in the Spring.

Greater Manchester’s Investment Zone also builds on the groundbreaking work being done by Innovation Greater Manchester (IGM), a business-led, triple-helix partnership which harnesses the power of business, academia and government to drive productivity. IGM will enable our city-region to be a leader of the fourth industrial revolution, creating a new national engine of growth. The focus on research and development (R&D) in the Statement, a simplified the tax relief system, and at least £50 million additional investment in the UK’s most promising R&D intensive companies aligns with our ambitions for boosting investment in an innovation-powered economy in the city-region, and the innovative approaches to investment taken by public and private partners in GM. All of these measures support Greater Manchester’s goal of increasing public and private R&D spend in the region by an additional £1 billion per annum by 2030. The fact that the annual £1 million prize for the most ground-breaking research into artificial intelligence has been named the ‘Manchester Prize’ can only be a vote of confidence in our approach.

The new £960 million Green Industries Growth Accelerator reflects our own environmental vision and the need to support businesses on their journey to Net Zero and we look forward to working with Government and industry to realise our goal to be carbon neutral by 2038.

Business rates relief will help support SMEs which are the foundation of the Greater Manchester economy, particular in areas such as retail, hospitality and leisure. In line with our commitment to inclusive growth, this will help support those 42 per cent of businesses in the city-region that are part of foundational economy, providing services which underpin the wider economy.

These key workers and sectors kept us going through the pandemic, and in Greater Manchester we are now supporting them with the £1 million Foundational Economy Innovation Fund, helping business and organisations in these sectors trial new ideas and build more resilience.

In parallel to this approach, we support the focus on apprenticeships and the increase in minimum wage. In Greater Manchester we want to go further, with our Living Wage City-Region campaign seeking to ensure all employers in the city-region pay the real Living Wage by the end of the decade.

These elements of the Autumn Statement will help strengthen our ability to deliver for the people and businesses of Greater Manchester and we will continue to work with Government and partners to realise our shared ambitions for economic growth for the city-region and the UK as a whole.

Lou Cordwell OBE, Chair of Greater Manchester Business Board