Geoff Snelson, Director of Strategy & Futures, MK Council Roundtable

Date: 12 Oct 2020

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MK Council sets out commitment of recovery and growth to business leaders

Geoff Snelson, Director of Strategy and Futures at MK Council has delivered an overview of the council’s £3 million economic recovery plan for the city to a group of Milton Keynes business leaders.

Providing details of the recovery framework, which is supported by the largest ever economic financial package from MK Council, Mr Snelson candidly discussed the council’s projections that recovery by the fourth quarter of 2022 may be optimistic, with 2024 a more realistic estimate.

Running in parallel to the 2008 financial crisis, rising employment levels are generally expected to fall just behind GDP recovery. Mr Snelson provided context on the recovery programme which would see greater provision for MK College to deliver education and training support to people out of the labour market as a result of Covid-19.

In a bid to establish sustainable and resilient networks for the longevity of the city, the recovery resources set out by the council will also see greater funding to support organisations, along with provision for retailers, creative sectors, and local employers. 

Ultimately, the recovery framework will see Milton Keynes transition into a greener economy, prioritising inclusive growth, while reducing poverty and inequality. Points which were welcomed by the MKBLP members at the online event.

With the framework split over immediate and long-term phases, Mr Snelson was keen to emphasis the latter phase.

While the council’s Covid 19 economic recovery response is front and centre, future economic development is still moving ahead with the final version of the MK Futures 2050 Commission strategy being delivered to cabinet in mid-December.

“We could question whether this is the time to make future projections but, at times of uncertainty, it’s even more important to have a clear view of the future. This isn’t the time to sit back and react.”

On the subject of future growth, Mr Snelson highlighted how, earlier this month, the leadership body behind the Oxford to Cambridge Arc had unveiled its vision for the area in a prospectus submitted to Westminster.

“Milton Keynes is a key project within the Arc which is being discussed in Downing Street. The strength of our AI development reinforces us as a place of technology and data knowledge.

While Oxford and Cambridge are renowned for a great sense of knowledge – Milton Keynes is becoming widely recognised as the place which takes up these ideas and creates innovative solutions. We are in an encouraging position.”

Mr Snelson touched upon the £10 million, ‘full fat’ 5G network roll-out in two thirds of the city’s urban areas and the installation of seven masts – making Milton Keynes the UK’s most advanced trial network.

“Our reputation for being a test bed for innovation is a vital part of our offering in attracting high tech and data businesses into the city as inward investments.”

Participants at the event, which took place online earlier this week as part of Milton Keynes Business Leader’s Partnership (MKBLP) programme of events discussed the ongoing commitment to education and training in a bid to nurture home-grown talent and improve skills.

With government investment expected for Milton Keynes University, and the council’s own commitment to MK College, Dr Julie Mills OBE added to the discussion with examples of how the college is working with individuals who have found themselves unemployed through training initiatives.

Mr Snelson went on to facilitate discussions around equality and diversity within employment, how the council is trying to drive footfall in the city centre, and its pledge to creating a greener economy in a bid to make the city carbon neutral by 2030.

Providing a national context, Mr Snelson passed onto the group intelligence from Westminster, which echoed the sentiments of the MK Council’s recovery framework: level up, Covid recovery and green growth.