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Our Town Hall and The Factory: How two key projects are building social value

Reports detailing how two of Manchester’s biggest construction projects are creating jobs, apprenticeships and other opportunities will be considered by councillors this month.

The Our Town Hall project is repairing, partially restoring and refurbishing the Grade I-listed Victorian landmark to safeguard it and ensure it can be accessed and enjoyed for generations to come.  

The Factory will be a remarkable new cultural venue – one of the biggest, most ambitious and most versatile cultural spaces being built anywhere in the world.  

But while the projects are very different in nature what they have in common is the Council’s determination to ensure that the money invested in delivering them is also invested in supporting Manchester people and businesses.  

Up to the end of June 2021, more than half of the spending on the Our Town Hall project – 58% - was with Manchester businesses and more than a third of the workforce – 34% - are Manchester residents. 

Some 115 jobs have been created across the project teams, with more than 50% of them going to Manchester residents. In addition 38 new apprenticeships have been created with 32 of them going to people who live in Manchester.  

There have been 81 work placements for Manchester people, including care leavers, and 95 sessions delivered at schools to inspire children to pursue careers in the construction industry and encourage STEM subjects. 

More than 1,700 Manchester-based students have benefitted from site visits, engagement at careers fairs or mentoring. Some 16 research projects based on the town hall have been completed, including work with the Manchester School of Architecture.  

Contractors have given 3,600 hours of volunteering time to causes including work with Manchester homelessness charity Barnabus and support with getting food parcels to people who were struggling during the Covid-19 pandemic.  

The combined value of the additional ‘social value’ generated so far is estimated at £5m - over the life of the project, which is due to conclude in 2024, this is projected to be £16.5m of extra benefit for the city.  

Meanwhile The Factory project is also manufacturing opportunities as the giant venue, on part of the former ITV Granada site, takes shape.  

There have been 28 construction-related apprenticeships created so far for Manchester and Greater Manchester residents with 25 more projected, and 56 work placements.  

Around 200 hours of employability support has been provided, with homeless people among those benefitting. 

15 new jobs have been created – with nine of them going to Manchester residents and the other six to people living in Greater Manchester.  

Contractors have volunteered around 1,000 hours to support Manchester causes. 

Some 84% of the project spending so far has been within Greater Manchester. 

The Council is working closely with construction lead Laing O’Rourke to ensure that social value targets for the projects are realigned to focus efforts on creating opportunities for the groups whose employment prospects have been most adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic such as young people not in education or training, those from ethnic minorities and the over-50s.  

Once The Factory is open, the provision of training and skills for future generations of creative talent through The Factory Academy is central to its mission. Over the next five years The Academy’s Factory Futures programme will reach as many as 10,000 young people in Manchester with support in accessing careers in the creative industries.  

Deputy Council Leader Cllr Bev Craig said: “We are investing in projects which help make Manchester a world class city and have enduring benefits for Mancunians, both as places of inspiration and visitor attractions which support the economy.  

“But we are also committed to ensuring the money invested does more. Every project we sign off has to have a social value legacy. Over the last decade Manchester has been leading the way, as part of the community wealth building movement, in making sure spending is with local businesses and creates new jobs and opportunities for the city’s people.  

“It’s hugely encouraging - especially given the challenges of the Covid-19 crisis - to see so many Mancunians already benefitting from this approach. As work continues we’ll keep working with contractors to deliver more." 

The details of how the two projects are delivering social value are set out in update reports to the Council’s Resources and Governance Scrutiny Committee which meets on Tuesday 20 July 2021.  

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