Andy Burnham pledges to work with co-ops on grassroots devolution

Co-operatives would play a key role in Andy Burnham’s plans for Greater Manchester, the mayoral candidate has revealed. The Labour MP for Leigh, who has launched his campaign...

Co-operatives would play a key role in Andy Burnham’s plans for Greater Manchester, the mayoral candidate has revealed.

The Labour MP for Leigh, who has launched his campaign for the Manchester Metro Mayor position, said he wanted to see solutions come from the grassroots to rebuild and unify society.

He was speaking at a conference on 11 November hosted by the Co-operative Party, which looked at the role of co-operatives in devolution.

He gave Supporters Direct, which he helped set up, as an example of how grassroots activity can drive change. The organisation helps fans to set up democratic co-operatives, known as supporters’ trusts, to gain influence in the running and ownership of their clubs.

Mr Burnham argued the current political system had failed the people of the north of England and said the UK was a “very uneven and unequal country”.

He said he would put young people at the heart of his political programme, and called on the co-operative movement to help create a UCAS-style system to provide apprenticeships for young people in Greater Manchester.

Mr Burnham also wants to work with the co-operative movement on housing, and wants the Greater Manchester Housing Fund to empower people to build council homes, rather than give loans to big developers for regeneration schemes.

He said he also aimed to help people set up community energy schemes, following the example of Germany.

The former Shadow Health Secretary added that he would work to integrate health services with social care. He also talked about promoting social care as an employment opportunity for young people, rather than “a dead-end career”.

If he is elected Metro Mayor in May, Mr Burnham will stand down as MP. He said Westminster had failed to reform and he wanted to “rebuild politics from grassroots”.

“If we can’t come forward with new ideas based on hope, not hate, then others will fill our streets with hate,” he warned.

The Metro Mayor will have control over transport, social care, housing, and police budgets within the area, with a £6bn health and social care budget and a £900m, 30-year investment fund.

The post is part of the devolution agenda of former chancellor George Osborne, agreed by council leaders in Greater Manchester in 2014. With a population of 3.5m, Greater Manchester covers Bolton, Bury, Manchester Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan.

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