Northern Powerhouse must be led by the North, warns report

The next phase of the Northern Powerhouse devolution agenda must be led by the region itself, according to a new study.

The report by the think tank IPPR North warns the original vision for the Northern Powerhouse was too narrow and almost exclusively focused on increasing productivity, and on transport and major city regions, but now it needs to evolve into a new phase.

It adds the original Northern Powerhouse agenda was led by the-then chancellor, George Osborne and delivered by central government agencies.

The next phase of the Northern Powerhouse agenda must be led by the North, it argues.

The report adds that the next phase of the Northern Powerhouse must see improvements in productivity go hand-in-hand with economic justice across all priority sectors.

It also calls on politicians to continue to prioritise transport investment, but also improve social infrastructure, including education, skills and health in the North to connect people to the opportunities of the economy.

‘The Government is so consumed by Westminster’s Brexit chaos that it has deprioritised the Northern Powerhouse agenda at the very time it is needed most. This cannot continue,’ said report author Luke Raikes.

‘All our regional economies face severe challenges– including London’s. Brexit threatens to make this much worse and the Northern Powerhouse agenda is the best chance we have of fixing this national economic crisis. In the national interest, the North needs to thrive.

‘The best way to take this important agenda forward is for the North to take the lead. The next phase of the Northern Powerhouse must be of the North, by the North, for the North”.’

The report also warns that weekly pay has fallen by £21 in the North since 2008 in real terms – more than the national fall in pay, and half a million people work in accommodation and food services jobs where weekly pay is half the national average.

But it adds the North has significant potential. Its economic strengths include advanced manufacturing, energy, health innovation and digital. Productivity in these sectors is forecast to grow by 38 per cent by 2030.

‘The North has started to see the impacts of the Northern Powerhouse agenda most noticeably with the elected mayors, the growing recognition of the North’s external profile and the creation of Transport for the North. The growing confidence and appetite for economic change is something to be celebrated and built upon,’ said IPPR North director, Sarah Longlands.

‘However too many of the North’s people and places are yet to feel the benefits. One million of northern children live in poverty. Many families depend upon precarious and poorly paid jobs and levels of healthy life expectancy in many areas constrain the opportunities of people to play an active role in their local economy.

‘But there is a better way. Now is the time to develop the Northern Powerhouse agenda in to a plan which works for the people of the North providing them with opportunities to share in the potential economic opportunities of the future”.’


To read the new report – State of the North 2018: Reprioritising the Northern Powerhouse – click here.


Jamie Hailstone
Senior reporter - NewStart


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