The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Burnham announces Graduate Retention Plan

The Labour Mayoral election candidate announced the key student policy at his manifesto launch

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Andy Burnham announced on Wednesday at the launch of his manifesto that if elected as Greater Manchester mayor he will implement a “Graduate Retention Plan” as part of his housing policy. The MP for Leigh has promised to provide cheaper housing and start-up opportunities for graduates from Greater Manchester universities.

Mr Burnham stressed that “young people are at the heart of this manifesto”, and while the policy is not outlined in the manifesto itself, he did announce it in his speech.

In an interview after the event for The Mancunion and Fuse TV, he said: “We want to retain more of the people in the city who study here […] it’s been the case in the past, on graduation, some people may have tried to stay and then eventually drift away because maybe they can’t find the job that works for them.”

Specifically the policy will offer more rent-to-own housing and subsidised start-up spaces within the city, and Mr Burnham hopes this will encourage more graduates to choose to stay in Manchester.

The announcement was made at the Burnham campaign’s manifesto launch at the Sharp Project in Newton Heath.

Along with announcing the retention plan, the manifesto also praised the Reclaim the Night movement, and Mr Burnham promised to include the Greater Manchester universities in the effort to preserve Manchester’s place as “the Silicon Valley of Europe”.

The event included a 45 minute speech by Mr Burnham, and an introduction from the founder of the Sharp Project and former Creative Director of the 2002 Commonwealth Games Susan Woodward OBE.

Photo: Matt Wynne

The Sharp Project in Newton Heath, where the event took place, Photo: Matt Wynne

The manifesto is the first to be announced by any of the mayoral candidates, with much of its content being crowd-sourced. Titled “Our Manifesto for Greater Manchester”, each page includes quotes from different Greater Manchester residents — six of whom were invited to speak before the main speech.

Along with policies aimed at young people, Mr Burnham also focused on his planned reforms to health and social care. The Greater Manchester Mayor will be the first “Metro Mayor” to have health policy devolved to it, and he made it a central plank of his speech.

At one point, he produced a rota for a migrant care worker working for a private care company, given to the team during the consultation for the manifesto. It showed a weekend rota that began at 07:30 and ended at 00:20 the next day, with 48 house visits, one of which only lasted two minutes, with the next working day starting at 03:20. Mr Burnham added: “If that doesn’t bring a sense of utter despair to us all then really I don’t know what should.”

Conservative candidate and Trafford Council Leader Sean Anstee is the next to announce his fully policy platform, on Monday the 20th of March, and the mayoral election will take place on the 4th of May. Jane Brophy of the Liberal Democrats, Shneur Odze of UKIP and Will Patterson of the Green Party are also standing for Mayor.

All the information on the election can be found at the GM Elects website. The deadline for registering to vote is April 13th.