Ambitious £54m project plan for Glass Futures

27 Jul 2020


Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region has published Building ‘Back Better’ an ambitious economic recovery plan for the whole of the city region, supported by leading figures from the worlds of business, academia, the social economy, the public sector and trades unions.

The plan, which has been submitted to central government, sets out how £1.4 billion in investment could unlock £8.8 billion of projects to begin in the next 12 months.

Those projects would create 94,000 permanent jobs, with a further 28,000 jobs in construction.

The plan shows how economic recovery will be delivered, across four strategic themes and with concrete, costed projects and programmes of work.  The four themes – the business ecosystem, people-focused recovery, place, and a green recovery – are all underpinned by a tangible commitment to Build Back Better.  The plan sets out clear asks of government supported by robust evidence.

The city region has, in the last 10 years, reduced its unemployment rate from well above, to just below, the national level; developed an internationally-popular culture and visitor economy; seen its universities act as major investors and civic leaders; expanded its port; developed a fast growing social economy and progressed internationally-recognised strengths in material science, infectious diseases control and high performance computing.

Steve Rotheram said:

“This pandemic has rocked us all and we still face tough times ahead, but my ambition to build a globally competitive, environmentally responsible and socially inclusive economy for the whole of our region remains undimmed.

“Before COVID-19, the city region’s growth rate of 3.5% was much higher than national levels, with well-above average productivity growth based on ten years of strong economic progress. We will build on these solid foundations.

“Alongside our strengths, we know that we still face hugely significant underlying challenges in health, education and skills and economic inactivity in our communities. Our recovery plan is focused on tackling these challenges and supporting the people of our city region – tackling inequality, creating jobs, supporting businesses, driving innovation, building new homes, and giving people the skills, they need to fulfil their ambitions.

“The challenge ahead is beyond the capabilities of any one city region, or any one organisation, to deal with alone. It is only by working together, with all of our partners across the city region and with government, that we will prevail and Build Back Better than ever.”

Building Back Better is a plan for the whole Liverpool City Region and has been developed in a collaborative process involving partners from a  wide range of sectors, as well as public engagement.  It has been backed by figures from  business, academia, the social economy, the public sector and trades unions.

The plan has identified nearly 40 fully-costed, shovel-ready interventions, which would create more than 120,000 jobs in total.  In addition, the plan details medium and long-term projects that could play a key role in the recovery, including the Mersey Tidal Power project, which would use the city region’s unique assets to contribute to the UK’s long-term sustainable energy mix, while creating thousands of jobs.

Glass Futures (£54m project), St Helens

An industry backed Research and Technology Organisation leading collaboration across some of the largest companies in the global glass industry, together with academia and government. Glass manufacturing practices are currently responsible for ~2million tonnes of CO2 per annum in the UK alone and the 90,000 square foot facility will be centred around a 30 tonne/day low carbon demonstration furnace.  The project will create the world’s first openly accessible, commercially available, multi-disciplinary glass melting facility with provision for research and development trials to decarbonise the UK glass industry.

Adrian Curry, Managing Director of Encirc, one of the UK’s major glass container manufacturers with substantial production facilities employing more than 1,400 people in Cheshire and Northern Ireland, said:

“I am delighted to see the experimental Glass Futures pilot plant and research facilities coming closer to fruition in St Helens, with its inclusion in the Liverpool City Region’s Economic Recovery Plan.  Increasing our global competitiveness and environmental sustainability is more important now than ever before.

“Glass Futures, The Global Centre of Excellence in Glass for R&D, Innovation and Training supported by leading glass manufacturers across the world, their supply chains and five of the UK’s most important universities, including the University of Liverpool, is an incredibly important development for the world’s glass industry. Glass Futures is a game changer leading to substantial improvements in manufacturing methodology, enhanced automation and increased efficiencies whilst targeting the removal of CO2 from the manufacturing process, significantly enhancing sustainable growth in the Liverpool City Region”

 A people focused recovery

Building Back Better sets out an evidence based, concerted, responsive and co-ordinated effort to co-design and co-fund an integrated people focussed recovery programme across employment, skills, health and inequality.  We propose to work in partnership with government on the following programmes:

  • A fully funded September Offer for school leavers to have a funded place in education, a job with training, apprenticeship or training programme, with increased levels of bursary funds for providers to respond to needs;
  • A young person’s guarantee, ensuring that those aged under 25 who have been out of work for more than 6 months can get training, an apprenticeship or a job: this will require the delivery of substantial numbers of Kickstarter jobs in the City Region;
  • Creation of increased numbers of apprenticeships (including degree apprenticeships and with increased focus on digital and agile skills) through incentives for businesses and further flexibilities around use of the apprenticeship levy;
  • A clearly evidenced, business led skills programme to deliver recovery as set out in the Association of Colleges Rebuild report;
  • A digital skills programme to retrain businesses and workers for an increasingly digital world;
  • A national digital poverty programme, which improves access to digital connectivity and devices for those that need it;
  • A community and voluntary sector resilience programme which provides the right infrastructure and financial resource for the sector to engage with those impacted by the pandemic (separate to the broader support for social economy through Kindred);
  • An enhanced schools catch-up programme to help pupils make up the lost learning, to ensure that young people are not permanently disadvantaged;
  • A Liverpool City Region creative curriculum to capture the talent of young people in the City Region.