If we want to unlock the full potential of the UK’s businesses, cities and communities, then we have to encourage collaboration across sectors and work together to explore the opportunities and challenges that currently face our economy.
Our vision for a vibrant economy is one where ideas, knowledge and best practice are shared. Connecting people who otherwise would have no chance of meeting. That is why we are conducting a nationwide set of Inquiries, focused on capturing and harnessing the experiences and expertise of cities from across the country.
Manchester inquiry: a focus on health
We are thrilled to be holding the third of our nationwide series of inquiries in Manchester, a city that epitomises urban transformation and modern economic progress. If you live and work in Manchester, then you will be more than familiar with our ‘can do’ attitude.
An attribute that has done its fair share to secure the first devolved health budget in the UK, and pushed Manchester-based businesses like Blueberry Therapeutics and Microbiosensor.io to develop world-leading innovation.
However, the city suffers from a dangerous health and wellbeing imbalance. We lack mental health expertise in our GP surgeries, there is a lack of 24/7 crisis care services for children and young people, and it is forecast that the social care sector will struggle to replace its existing workforce.
Greater Manchester represents the largest functional economic area outside London, with a gross value added (GVA) of £56 billion. The latent economic potential, combined with the city’s unique devolved health budget, makes Manchester the ideal place to pioneer technology that delivers health benefits to millions. That’s the purpose of the event on 24 November: to focus on the city’s strengths and opportunities, with clear actions that can be collectively taken forward.
How bad health affects growth and potential
Manchester, just like any other city, cannot thrive if its workers are not healthy and happy – at work and outside of it. If your people are not in tip-top condition, with access to the best healthcare and wellbeing services – whether that relates to mental or physical conditions – then growth will suffer and potential go unfulfilled.
Some businesses fail to understand the importance of health to economic growth. That is part of the reason why I’m so delighted to be part of this event. To get people thinking about just how wide ranging the negative consequences of a low standard of wellbeing can be. A drain on profit, productivity, as well as personal happiness.
The inquiry’s focus will be broad, with a range of topics to be discussed, including socioeconomic inequality, education and employment. Tackling these alone is impossible. Leave all the ideas on one person’s desk and they won’t get done. Invite hundreds of people to map a vibrant future for a city and we can get the ball rolling.
That’s why I’m looking forward to on 24 November – hearing ideas and starting, as a collective, to do everything we can to develop a vibrant economy here in Manchester.
For more information about the Manchester Live Lab event on 24 November, visit the official event page.