Andy Burnham has announced plans for 16-18 year olds to be issued with an “Opportunity Pass” – that will enable free or reduced entry into participating leisure venues and sporting events.
The pass will also grant entirely free bus travel across Greater Manchester for anybody aged 16, 17 or 18.
The scheme is set to be rolled out in September of this year as part of an initial two-year trial.
The mayor is setting up a group – Greater Manchester’s Youth Combined Authority – to dictate the details and parameters of the pass.
The group will consist of 40 young people aged between 11 and 18, including two members from each of the area’s 10 youth councils, and two members from 10 other youth groups across the Greater Manchester region. The group will be gender-balanced.
Andy Burnham teamed up with Xplode Magazine to release a video message breaking the news.
He said “For too long, young people have been the target for cuts. In Greater Manchester we want to help them make their way in the world and get their voices heard”.
“The message I am sending them today is clear and direct: This is your city. Explore it, own it, build it. We believe in you and we will back you.”
There is still an element of ambiguity surrounding how the scheme will be funded, but the Mayor has admitted that that it could in part be paid for by the taxpayer through Council Tax.
The total cost of the project is estimated to reach between £12M – £15M. A budget setting process is set to begin in February, and specific payment details will be released in due course.
A bold move, and the first of its kind in the UK. What are your thoughts?