Burnham reaffirms ambitions to become 100% digitally enabled city-region

Date published: 21 June 2021

Mayor Andy Burnham has reaffirmed ambitions for Greater Manchester to become one of the first 100% digitally enabled city-regions, equipping residents with the skills, connectivity and technology to get online.

It's an ambition that will support Greater Manchester in its journey to become a world leading digital city-region, with 'people at the heart of its plans'. 

During Digital Leaders Week, the Mayor joined a panel of experts who shared progress towards Greater Manchester’s ambition to become a world leading digital city region, covering work on the digitisation of early years, digital infrastructure and digital inclusion across the region.

At the event, the Mayor referenced the new Digital Inclusion Action Network, which will lead targeted action to combat digital exclusion within with a specific focus on supporting under-25s, over-75s and disabled people in Greater Manchester.

It will take on a delivery focused role with a specific focus on supporting these target groups.

The new action network will work closely with the Greater Manchester Digital Inclusion Taskforce and enable the Mayor to work in collaboration with businesses, local authorities, schools, voluntary and charitable organisations to drive forward this ambition.

Mr Burnham said: “If Greater Manchester is truly going to be a world leading digital city region, we have to make a big commitment to fix the digital divide, the consequences of not doing so are severe – with our people at risk of further social isolation, lack of equal opportunities and not being able to access support.

“We are ensuring that everyone in Greater Manchester, whatever their age, location or situation, can benefit from the opportunities digital brings.

"Now is the time where Greater Manchester can lead the way in achieving an ambition that we should all strive for country wide."

Ensuring residents can get online, access public services and develop their digital skills will drive positive social and economic change for both residents and businesses, helping to position Greater Manchester as the key city-region for businesses seeking a digitally skilled workforce.

Opening the event, newly-announced Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) Lead for Digital, Work and Skills, Councillor Andrew Western highlighted figures released last week that show the North West’s attractiveness – overtaking the South East in 2020 as the UK’s second-biggest foreign direct investment (FDI) location outside of London.

Councillor Western said: “Organisations are wanting to tap into the tech talent, cost effectiveness and entrepreneurial spirit behind home grown successes - like The Hut Group, AO and AutoTrader, and our social enterprises and willingness to collaborate to innovate.

“And what underpins this are our universities and colleges, our infrastructure and the dedicated support available to tech companies, with particular specialisms, including CityLab’s in Manchester, GCHQ’s programmes, HOST in Salford, and Ashton Old Baths in Tameside to name but a few.”

Attendees at the event heard how digital is supporting region wide ambitions to ensure every child has the basic skills needed to start school, through the digitisation of early years assessments and support.

Parents, carers and professionals can use a new mobile Early Years app, to complete assessments and have more control over their child’s care and development.

The app, developed by the GMCA frontline professionals and parents provides support digitally and is transforming the way health information is delivered and shared in Greater Manchester.

The Mayor ended on a call to organisations in Greater Manchester and beyond to come forward and join in the mission to fix the digital divide by joining the taskforce and be part of the solution to this challenge that impacts all of us.

Further information on Greater Manchester’s digital ambitions, including a bold ambition to make Greater Manchester a 100% digitally enabled city region, can be found online here

Do you have a story for us? Want to tell us about something going on in and around Oldham? Let us know by emailing news@oldham-chronicle.co.uk , calling our Oldham-based newsroom on 0161 633 2121 , tweeting us @oldhamchronicle or messaging us through our Facebook page. All contact will be treated in confidence.

While you are here...

...we have a small favour to ask; would you support Oldham Chronicle and join other residents making a contribution, from just £3 per month?

Oldham Chronicle offers completely independent local journalism with free access. If you enjoy the independent news and other free services we offer, please consider supporting us financially and help Oldham Chronicle to continue to provide local engaging content for years to come. Thank you.

Support Oldham Chronicle