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Northern Powerhouse gets £1.5bn boost as ministers meet on Tyneside

The government has announced a £1.5bn investment for the Northern Powerhouse as the cabinet met on Tyneside today.

Among the items to be agreed as part of the injection of cash is the £780m investment in the East Coast Main Line, with major upgrades to the railway between Edinburgh and London due to be completed in the early 2020s.

The government also announced legislation to set up the £600m North of Tyne devolution deal which covers the areas of Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland. The investments are part of the Northern Powerhouse plan to revive the north of England and turn it into a major economic driver for growth in Britain.

At their cabinet meeting today, ministers also discussed the key role that local enterprise partnerships will play in boosting growth and prosperity across the Northern Powerhouse. A further £180m of investment to drive research in offshore renewable energy Innovation was also announced.

Writing for the local news website ChronicleLive, the prime minister Theresa May said: “Today I’m bringing the cabinet to the heart of Tyne and Wear and the heart of the Northern Powerhouse. And we’re coming here with a very simple message: this government believes in the north east, and this government is backing the North East.

“It’s no coincidence that Newcastle and Gateshead were chosen to host the Great Exhibition of the North. This part of the world has long embodied the spirit of innovation and creativity that makes this country so successful. If this is to be a country where the prosperity generated by these new opportunities is genuinely shared - where people in Stockton, South Shields and Sedgefield feel the benefits of growth every bit as much as those in London, the South East and the rest of the UK - we have to make a serious investment in jobs, skills and infrastructure right across the nation.”

Announcing that the government was putting money into the infrastructure on which all businesses rely, the prime minister said: “I’m delighted to announce that we’ll be investing up to £780 million to improve the East Coast Mainline, raising capacity and cutting journey times. The upgrades, taking place over the next two years, will allow brand-new Intercity Express trains to run, providing more spacious, more comfortable and more frequent services and making the North East better connected than ever.”

May said that the government was also investing an extra £100m to help innovators and commercial companies work together at the Centre for Process Innovation and on offshore renewable energy projects across the region.

Announcing a £600m investment in jobs, skills and infrastructure under the North of the Tyne devolution deal, the prime minister said that the deal was about more than just money. “It’s about putting power in the hands of local people,” said May. “Next year, people in Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland will go to the polls to choose their first-ever directly-elected mayor. A champion for the region, he or she will have wide-ranging powers on issues that really matter to the people of the North East, including planning, housing, and adult education.”