Northern Powerhouse in sharp focus as main parties set out plans to rebalance UK economy

Senior figures from the two main political parties have addressed an audience of northern business leaders today (Monday 9 December) in Manchester and Yorkshire and set out their party’s approach to the Northern Powerhouse.

This was in response to the challenge laid down by the Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP) at the start of the election campaign, who called on senior leaders from each of the main parties to come and speak to the north and address the critical issues that matter to the 15 million people living in the wider northern region.

Rebecca Long-Bailey, shadow secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, set out her party’s plans to a business audience in Manchester, on tackling the inequalities that exist between north and south, the barriers to a balanced country. 

In Yorkshire, chancellor of the exchequer Sajid Javid, took part in a Q&A event with northern business leaders, giving an opportunity for the north’s voice to be heard in this election campaign.

Following the election result, the NPP will be seeking the following commitments from whoever forms the next government:

  • Deliver 100% devolution to the north; a fundamental shift in decision-making out of Whitehall to northern communities, cities and towns;
  • Commit to build both HS2, starting from the north, and Northern Powerhouse Rail in full, and overhaul the region’s wider local transport network through devolved funding and powers;
  • Commit an extra £1bn to northern schools to tackle disadvantage; the most significant barrier to our children’s’ educational attainment;
  • Create an Industrial Strategy for the north to power the UK economy and lead the net zero target for the UK, focussing in particular on energy – building Small Modular Reactors, carbon capture and storage and decarbonising heat;
  • Rebalancing Research & Development spending, focusing on centres of advanced manufacturing, digital excellence and health innovation; 
  • Build a new generation of social housing and affordable homes, as well as a mix of housing in areas with planned transport investment;
  • Provide world-class digital infrastructure to every city and town within five years, as well as boosting broadband in rural areas;
  • Create a Northern Powerhouse growth body led by and for the north to stimulate overseas trade and investment and commit a decade of funding to sustained major game-changing interventions.

Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership said: “This election has seen the north come in and out of focus, however, as we start the final week of the campaign major players from both main parties will each speak to a business audience and give their party’s response to the challenge we laid down at the beginning of the campaign.

“This election offers our political parties a golden opportunity no government in living memory has achieved – to rebalance the UK economy, capturing a trillion-pound economic gain for the country over the coming decades.”

Lord O’Neill, vice-chair of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership said: “This is an opportunity for the two main political parties to put some real, credible and affordable commitments on the table. With polling day fast approaching, this is the last chance to truly demonstrate their party’s getting serious about the North, in particular transforming transport, better education and meaningful devolution, as northern voters’ decisions will be what the result will likely rest on.”

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