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Half a Dozen ‘First Generation Metro Mayors’ Control the Future of Devolution



Job-Creating Transportation Projects by Office of Governor Mark Dayton & Lt. Governor Tina Smith via flickr

A top priority for new leaders must be to combat living standard gaps between and inside cities.

With less than two hundred days to go until the first Metropolitan Mayors are elected, the future of devolution rests on the candidates’ ability to make early progress on tackling the entrenched problems that have reduced living standards and caused the poor economic performance of England’s major city regions.

This is according to a new report published today by the Resolution Foundation to mark a major new project on boosting living standards across England’s city regions.

As Tees Valley, Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and the Liverpool city region go the polls on May 4th next year, and with Sheffield and West of England also likely to hold votes, the report sets out the different living standards challenges for the Metro Mayor candidates in each area. These include poor employment prospects, low pay, and high inequality within city regions.

The Foundation says that the lack of strong support among voters for Metro Mayors means that there is a huge pressure on the ‘first generation’ of elected leaders to create a measurable positive change in their first few years of office. It warns that failure to do so could undermine the case for Metro Mayors and put future devolution deals in doubt.

The report shows that while cities are considered to be the engines of economic growth, typical incomes across England’s major city regions are – with the exception of London and the West of England city area – actually lower than the UK average.

The jobs market also varies widely between cities, with the West Midland’s employment rate 13 percentage points below that of the West of England, despite Birmingham being less than 100 miles from Bristol.

However, job inequalities within city regions are even starker, says the report. Nottingham, for example, has an employment rate of 65.2 per cent compared to 79.5 per cent in nearby Rushcliffe. Around Cardiff, Blaenau Gwent has an employment of 64.3 per cent, compared to 78.8 per cent in Monmouthshire.

The report notes that these job gaps are often caused by the poor employment prospects facing disabled, BAME, low-skilled and older workers in cities. Helping these groups enter and remain in the labour market is the single biggest way to improve employment rate, says the Foundation.

The report says that raising the employment rates of badly performing city regions up to those achieved in the best performing areas such as Bristol could boost City employment by over 500,000. And tackling jobs gaps within cities could yield even greater returns – boosting City employment by around 750,000.

In order to meet these challenges, the Resolution Foundation argues that the following issues should be at the top of each new Mayor’s respective to do list:

Manchester: spread prosperity more evenly. Trafford has an employment rate of 79 per cent whereas the rate is 63 per cent in Rochdale. This intra-city jobs gap is – at 16 percentage points – the biggest in any city region.
West Midlands: improve the disastrous employment levels across the area. The region has the lowest employment rate of any city region by far at 64.4 per cent, around 10 percentage points below the national average. All local authorities in the region are below the national average.
Tees Valley: increase ethnic minority employment. Employment rates for ethnic minorities are lowest in the Tees Valley. Only by addressing this can the region improve its overall employment rate (68.8 per cent) which is the third worst of all the city regions.
Sheffield: tackle low pay. Sheffield has the lowest hourly wages (£10.54) of all the city regions and around one in five workers will be on the minimum wage or National Living Wage by 2020.
Liverpool: boost disabled employment. The employment rate for disabled people in Liverpool is 36.4 per cent compared to 42.1 per cent across all the cities. Liverpool centre also has the second lowest city employment rate in the country (60.8 per cent).
West of England: build more houses. The top city region (outside of London) for incomes needs to deal with the problems of success. Aside from London the region has experienced the fastest growth in house prices – up 33 per cent since April 2009, but wages have only increased by 6 per cent.

Torsten Bell, Director of the Resolution Foundation, said:
“First impressions matter. That’s why the first generation of Metro Mayors will be measured by the change they deliver for their cities, not the powers they receive – desirable though devolution is.

“The focus both in the election campaigns to come and for new city leaders once elected must be on identifying the key living standards challenges in different cities and showing that the renewal of municipal economic leadership delivers concrete progress in tackling them.”

Stephen Clarke, Research and Policy Analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said:
“Creating inclusive prosperity that isn’t limited to a few areas within cities should be at the heart of each Metro Mayor’s mission. But there is no one size fits all approach to achieving it and each area presents a unique challenge, from low disabled employment in Liverpool to a lack of housing in the West of England.

“Exploring which groups are struggling to get and keep decent jobs in a particular area is key to enabling new Mayors to make a measurable difference to the lives of many of their constituents.

“Get this right and Metro Mayors may finally be able to win over a sceptical electorate. Get this wrong and the future of devolution could be undermined.”



A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon




energy efficient homes

Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.

There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.

1. The Rise Of Smart Windows

When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.

If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.

2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs

If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.

Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.

3. Low-E Windows Taking Over

It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.

They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.

4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges

Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.

The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.

5. Improving Our Current LEDs

Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.

That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.

Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too

Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.

ShutterStock – Stock photo ID: 613912244

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IEMA Urge Government’s Industrial Strategy Skills Overhaul To Adopt A “Long View Approach”



IEMA, in response to the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, have welcomed the focus on technical skills and education to boost “competence and capability” of tomorrow’s workforce.

Policy experts at the world’s leading professional association of Environment and Sustainability professionals has today welcomed Prime Minister Teresa May’s confirmation that an overhaul of technical education and skills will form a central part of the Plan for Britain – but warns the strategy must be one for the long term.

Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Advisor at IEMA said this morning that the approach and predicted investment in building a stronger technical skills portfolio to boost the UK’s productivity and economic resilience is positive, and presents an opportunity to drive the UK’s skills profile and commitment to sustainability outside of the EU.

Commenting on the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, Baxter said today:

“Government must use the Industrial Strategy as an opportunity to accelerate the UK’s transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient economy – one that is flexible and agile and which gives a progressive outlook for the UK’s future outside the EU.

We welcome the focus on skills and education, as it is vital that tomorrow’s workforce has the competence and capability to innovate and compete globally in high-value manufacturing and leading technology.

There is a real opportunity with the Industrial Strategy, and forthcoming 25 year Environment Plan and Carbon Emissions Reduction Plan, to set long-term economic and environmental outcomes which set the conditions to unlock investment, enhance natural capital and provide employment and export opportunities for UK business.

We will ensure that the Environment and Sustainability profession makes a positive contribution in responding to the Green Paper.”

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