The government has shown a welcome commitment to tackling the North-South divide and devolution deals have empowered regions in the North to have a direct influence on their future.
Devolution can be a game-changer, and elected mayors in Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region and Tees Valley are beginning to have a major impact, as demonstrated by the Prime Minister launching the South Tees Development Corporation last month, with the aim of creating 20,000 jobs.
The Northern Powerhouse Partnership was established to increase the North’s contribution to the UK economy, representing business and civic leaders across the region to allow the North to uniquely speak with one voice.
Our first report, published in February, set out some specific initiatives that would allow the creation of an additional 850,000 jobs by 2050, as well as an extra £100bn contribution to the UK economy. Significant progress has already been made, but there are three main areas we believe the government should prioritise to ensure this progress is maintained.
Transport and connectivity
Implementing Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR), which would link up the cities of the North by significantly reducing journey times, would be transformational. It would bring seven million more people and three times the number of businesses within a 90-minute journey time of one of our great northern cities. Our campaign for the government to commit to NPR in the autumn Budget has been signed by more than 70 leading businesses across the North.
Investing in the prime capabilities of the North
The Northern Powerhouse Independent Economic Review identified advanced manufacturing, energy, health innovation and digital as four areas where the North can compete on the national and international stage.
We want to make those areas world-leading, and we are launching a report at the end of September with a route map of key steps for the North itself to follow, for businesses to invest in and specific measure for the government to fund, as well as bringing together expertise to secure outstanding centres of excellence across the North in these areas.
Education and Skills
Educational attainment at 16 is low across the region; in the North, 56% of pupils attain five or more A* to C grades at GCSE, including English and Maths, compared with 61% in London. In addition, the North has a deficit across the skills spectrum, with the biggest gaps being at higher skill levels; those in high demand from employers.
We have convened our education and skills board, featuring representatives from northern schools, colleges, educational groups and businesses, to produce an evidence-based report with specific requests for how the government can address these urgent issues and deliver a system capable of providing world-class education and job opportunities in the Northern Powerhouse.
Addressing these crucial policy areas could transform the North, creating a vibrant, productive region with an unparalleled quality of life capable of rivalling anything the rest of the world has to offer. We are working with the government and civic leaders in the North to turn this vison into a reality.
Henri Murison, director, Northern Powerhouse Partnership