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NORTHERN WAY ON COURSE TO DELIVER JOBS AND PROSPERITY

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The Northern Way will invest up to£10m into pilot schemes to...
The Northern Way will invest up to£10m into pilot schemes to

help get thousands of long-term unemployed people back into work and

finance other innovative projects to boost the north's economy,

deputy prime minister John Prescott, and the three northern regional

development agencies announced today.

The funding will be used to bolster the government's additional nine

Pathways to Work pilot programmes across the north, announced by the

chancellor in the pre-budget report in December, to help meet the

Northern Way's goal to bring 100,000 people back into work by 2014.

The pilots, which aim to improve opportunities for people on

incapacity benefit to find employment, will be enhanced to address

particularly disadvantaged groups, health and childcare issues.

Mr Prescott unveiled the latest phase in the growth strategy Moving

Forward: The Northern Way, and the government's response at the

Delivering Sustainable Communities Summit in Manchester today.

The action plan, backed with an initial ODPM/RDA£100m growth fund,

aims to eradicate the£29bn productivity gap between the North

of England and the average of the other English regions by 2025.

The government's commitment to the Northern Way's success was also

emphasised today with the announcement that the new Academy for

Sustainable Skills will be based in Leeds. It will work with a wide

range of occupations and stakeholders to develop the integrated

skills needed to deliver places where people want to live and work.

A new forward looking strategy to improve the economic performance of

all regions was also launched today by the deputy prime minister.

Realising the Potential of All Our Regions shows how the Ggvernment

and regional development agencies will accelerate growth across

England through devolving decision making powers, increasing

employment, improving skills, and encouraging entrepreneurship and

innovation.

Deputy prime minister John Prescott said:

'We are determined to increase prosperity in all regions both for the

benefit and sustainability of communities and for the success of the

country as a whole. There is a huge untapped potential for jobs and

growth across the regions, which we need to harness by making the

most of our people, infrastructure, and resources.

'Today's Northern Way Action Plan is major milestone in our efforts

to close the prosperity gap between the Northern regions and the rest

of the country. It is an ambitious and exciting plan for creating

thriving and sustainable communities, building on the record

investment the government is putting into the north.

'There is still a long way to go, but this report shows there is real

commitment from the government, RDAs, and other stakeholders to

deliver more jobs and prosperity through the Northern Way.'

Eight city regions - Liverpool/Merseyside, Central Lancashire,

Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, Hull and Humber Ports, Tees Valley and

Tyne and Wear - have been identified as the core generators of the

new growth thenorth needs to bolster its economic performance.

Each city region will table a development programme to The Northern

Way steering group in May, detailing future activity in their area

based on the ten key themes of The Northern Way.

Early funding priorities for the Northern Way will include:

* Enhancing the government's nine Pathways to Work pilots in Durham,

Tees Valley, Sunderland, Barnsley and Rotherham, Liverpool, Greater

Mersey, Cumbria, Manchester and Lancashire West;

* Developing the economic evidence base for transport priorities in

the North;

* Supporting enterprise in education initiatives, such as A Women

Into Enterprise programme, helping drive a more entrepreneurial North

through the use of role models and mentors;

* Marketing the North, its assets and business potential to Europe,

North America and Australia.

Regional Development Agencies One NorthEast, Yorkshire Forward and

the Northwest Development Agency are leading the production of the

report.

Graham Hall, the Northern Way chairman, said:

'This action plan shows our determination to work differently to

achieve our goals, with a series of early priorities to get the

growth strategy moving.'

Alan Clarke, One NorthEast chief executive, said:

'The Northern Way is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the North

to pool its strengths and work towards the greater goal of a

world-class economy coupled with a superb quality of life.

'One NorthEast will continue to lead the work on this important

project with our region's strengths in fields such as the chemicals

industry and scientific research and development playing a central

role.'

Martin Havenhand, Yorkshire Forward chief executive, said:

'Yorkshire Forward is delighted to be collaborating with colleagues

in the North West and North East to reduce disparities between the

North and other English regions. Yorkshire Forward has a critical

role in working with the steering group in focusing on key transport

priorities to address the£29bn economic gap.'

Steven Broomhead, chief executive of the Northwest Regional

Development Agency, said:

'We are delighted to be leading on the development of the knowledge,

skills and employment policies of The Northern Way. Harnessing the

skills and talents of our people will be crucial if we are to make a

real difference to the prosperity of the north.

The government also welcomed the publication today by the Midlands

and the South West regions of their first reports on how to achieve

improved economic growth in their regions to underpin sustainable

communities. Both Smart Growth: The Midlands Way and The Way Ahead:

Delivering Sustainable Communities in the South West, illustrate the

Government's determination to raise economic productivity in all

regions.

Juliet Williams, lead chairman for England's regional development

agencies, added:

'The drive to create truly sustainable communities for future

generations is an ambition shared across all the English regions.

England's regional development agencies have a vital role to play in

ensuring that such growth has its roots in improved economic

performance across the country.

'The RDAs have been glad to embrace the government's sustainable

communities challenge through a series of far-reaching

regionally-based proposals. The Northern Way is now well established,

but similar blueprints have been worked up elsewhere. In the Midlands

and in my own region of the South West, we share a commitment to make

growth sustainable, and we are all determined to help put plans into

action.'

The government has also today announced the creation of two new Urban

Regeneration Companies (URCs) in the North West, to be established in

Blackpool and Central Salford.

Both URCs will improve the economic position of these two key areas,

as well as contributing to the economic growth of the wider

Manchester and West Lancashire sub regions.

The announcement brings to five the number of URCs in the North West,

which together will support the Northern Way Growth Strategy, and

deliver the objectives of the Sustainable Communities Plan.

Notes

1. The three Northern RDAs seized upon the desire of the deputy prime

minister to take forward work on a growth strategy to help close the

£29bn productivity gap between the region and the rest of the

country, in February 2004 as part of Making it Happen: The Northern

Way. The Sustainable Communities Plan is a long-term programme of

action backed by£38bn of investment to improve housing and

planning in order to build sustainable thriving communities. It

covers a wide agenda, which recognises that to develop communities,

in which people wish to live, housing policy needs to be linked to

improving economies, public services, transport and the environment

at a local level.

2. The Northern Way Growth Strategy, launched in September 2004,

backed with a£100m growth fund, aims to eradicate the£29bn

productivity gap between the North of England and the average of the

other English regions by 2025. See fact sheet for more details.

3. 'Realising the Potential of All Our Regions' is being jointly

published by the Government and the RDAs today. It explains how the

Government's aspiration to raise employment rates to 80% and to

substantially reduce the 12 million adults without qualifications,

alongside measures to devolve responsibility to the geographical

level where it will have the greatest impact, are the keys to

narrowing regional disparities. See fact sheet for more details.

4. The government today also published the State of Our Towns and

Cities interim Report. It presents research findings on the economic,

social and environmental performance of 56 English towns and cities.

A commitment to publish a full report on the State of our Towns and

Cities (SOCR) in 2005 was highlighted in the Urban White Paper,

issued in November 2000. There are already some key factors

emerging from the research which underline the importance of urban

areas to our national and regional economies; and reinforce the need

to narrow the gaps in progress and opportunity between our cities and

our regions. The research will conclude in November 2005 with a

Final Report that audits urban performance in England, provides

insights into how cities are changing, and offers a review of what drives urban change, lessons learned, and the policy implications.

5. URCs are companies limited by guarantee which are established by

local partners, and are designed to meet particular local and

sub-regional needs. They focus on physical development and address

the problems of economic decline. The founding members of the two

latest URCs will be the North West Development Agency, Blackpool

Borough Council, Salford City Council and English Partnerships. See

fact sheet for more details.

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