Theresa May has moved to strengthen the role of Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry during the final two months of her premiership.
It was announced this lunchtime that Mr Berry’s role which is currently based in the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, will become a joint appointment with the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.
In a statement the government the joint role would improve oversight and coordination of local economic growth policy and ensure “key policies like the £1.6bn Stronger Towns Fund and the Northern Powerhouse are at the heart of delivering the government’s Modern Industrial Strategy.”
Mr Berry said: “At the heart of the Northern Powerhouse is an unshakeable partnership between business, communities and government.
“I’m delighted to accept this new appointment and I’m grateful to the Prime Minister for the unwavering support she has given to the Northern Powerhouse.”
The government announcement said the Northern Powerhouse’s GVA (gross value added) had increased by £10bn in real terms since the term began to be used in 2014 as part of the government’s drive to boost economic growth in the north of England.
Communities secretary James Brokenshire said “with this broadened ministerial role, the government has cemented its long-term commitment to the Northern Powerhouse”.
However, there will be no obligation for the next prime minster to maintain the role. Mrs May today resigned as leader of the Conservative party but will continue as prime minster until her party chooses a successor as leader in late July who will then become prime minister.
Mr Brokenshire added: “As we look to the future - including the Borderlands Growth Deal and the second phase of the Grimsby Town Deal - the government has an empowered minister ready to roll up their sleeves and deliver for the Northern Powerhouse and local communities across the country.”
Mr Berry was elected to parliament as MP for Rossendale and Darwen in 2010 and has been Northern Powerhouse minster since 2017.
Business secretary Greg Clark welcomed the appointment.
He said: “I look forward to working with him on this important agenda, as we work with local leaders across the country on their local industrial strategies, helping to build on the strengths of each area to secure their economic future.”