A new report published by the Centre for Cities and Fast Growth Cities also sets out a blueprint for Milton Keynes post-Covid recovery.
Centre for Cities think tank and the Fast Growth Cities have today warned the Government not to overlook the risk that Covid-19 could have on Milton Keynes’ long-term prosperity as they unveil a blueprint for the city’s recovery from the pandemic.
Prior to the pandemic, Milton Keynes had one of the fastest growing local economies in the UK, was an important source of employment for people far beyond its council boundaries and its success contributed to the strength of the national economy.
However, Milton Keynes has not escaped the economic damage done by the pandemic and could be at risk of being ‘levelled down’ without further support for people and businesses from the Government.
Just as Milton Keynes’s success was important for the UK economy pre-Covid, its recovery will be vital in ensuring the wider region and the country bounces back quickly from the pandemic.
The Centre for Cities/Fast Growth Cities blueprint for recovery focuses on six key areas for Milton Keynes to focus on:
• Labour market skills and education
• Businesses and growth
• High streets and city centres
• Housing and planning
• Economic impact of Covid-19
In the short-term, they are urging the Government and to provide guidance to firms in Milton Keynes so they can make the most of the financial support on offer, such as business support loans that are available.
In the longer term, Government support for MK’s future economic growth should focus on providing adults with better education opportunities, continuing to attract high-skilled, high paying businesses into the city, and building more homes to increase affordability in the city.
Centre for Cities and Fast Growth Cities also call on the Government to devolve more power and money away from Whitehall and to the council.
Separately, the Leader of Milton Keynes Council Councillor Peter Marland, together with fellow leaders of the Fast Growth Cities, have urged the Government to move forward with plans for Oxford-Cambridge Arc, of which Milton Keynes is part.
They have called on the Government to extend the planned East-West Rail project to Swindon and Norwich and electrify the line – a move which would help meet the Government’s ambition for a zero-carbon future.
Councillor Marland, Leader of Milton Keynes Council said: “We’re confident that through our collective efforts with local businesses and people we will see a strong economic recovery in Milton Keynes, but we cannot be complacent.
"With sharp rises in unemployment expected, we need urgent support from the government so we can protect local businesses and jobs.”
Centre for Cities Chief Executive, Andrew Carter said: “Milton Keynes has enjoyed from several years of economic growth which has benefited people living in the city, and the whole UK through its growing contribution to the Treasury.
"However, it would be a mistake to think that it has escaped the economic damage done by Covid-19 and will need support to bounce back.
“In the short-term, practical measures to help Milton Keynes’s businesses reopen will be necessary, but in the long-term, more substantive changes to skills and training are needed to protect people’s jobs from economic crashes.”