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Northern Powerhouse needs £50bn public investment says think tank

Investment in northern infrastructure must rise to £50bn if Northern Powerhouse ambition is to be realised says new IPPR North State of the North report.

A new report published this week has set out four major tests that government must pass in order to claim success on creation of a Northern Powerhouse. The State of the North report produced by think tank IPPR North says that increasing investment in infrastructure is critical to improving connectivity and productivity. It also calls on government to invest more in reasearch and development activtity in the north of England.

"Starting with the spending review in November, the chancellor must make a step-change commitment to large-scale capital investment in infrastructure in the North, such that by the beginning of (rail) control period 6 and roads investment strategy 2, the government will be committed to at least £50 billion of public investment in northern infrastructure which can be used to leverage greater private investment. Only when we see this level of investment will the northern powerhouse achieve our third test, and meet two further benchmarks" said the report.

Those two benchmarks include closing the commuter travel times between major northern cities to reach the levels of similar metro-regions in Europe and the need to ensure that levels of investment in research and development in the North match those of the very best regions in Europe rising from an R&D intensity of 1.3% of GDP from 1%.

“One of the National Infrastructure Commission’s first tasks should be to produce a review of the North/South infrastructure divide."

Dan Jarvis, Barnsley Central MP

Speaking at the State of the North event in Sheffield where the report was unveiled, Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis called for a review of the infrastructure divide between the north and south and said he had written to National Infrastructure Committee chair Lord Adonis calling for the NIC to carry out this work. Figures from the IPPR North report highlighted that investment in transport infrastructure per head in London is currently £2,600, compared to only £380 in the North. 

“One of the National Infrastructure Commission’s first tasks should be to produce a review of the North/South infrastructure divide. An independent assessment that maps out regional priorities, informs long-term planning, and helps ensure that local decisions are integrated with national interests,” said Jarvis. “I think that would support decision-making at a devolved level, and put us on the road to spreading more wealth, more fairly across the country. Because debates such as whether we have sufficient airport capacity should not only be about airports in West London and West Sussex. Growing regional airports like Manchester, Leeds/Bradford and Newcastle should be part of the conversation too.”

A large proportion of planned infrastructure investment in the North of England, £7.7bn is earmarked for decommissioning Sellafield, said the report which will not improve the productivity of the wider local environment - unlike Crossrail in London. Improving productivity is critical in meeting the first of the four tests outlined in the report which is to "generate a better type of economic growth". The second test must be for the North to liberate the potential of its people through huge improvements to skills development starting in childhood. The third test calls on government to invest more in infrastructure and investment in research and development and the fourth test set out is to decentralise more power giving more local control to people.

The four "State of the North" tests:

  1. The northern powerhouse must generate a better type of economic growth, one that combines rising productivity with more jobs and higher wages for all.
  2. The northern powerhouse must liberate the potential of its greatest asset – its people – through huge improvements to the development of skills, starting with the very youngest.
  3. The northern powerhouse requires investment in future success, particularly in terms of enabling innovation and building the infrastructure we need for the 21st century and beyond.
  4. The northern powerhouse must rejuvenate local democracy by giving people a genuine involvement in the way the north of England is run.

In late September IPPR North director Ed Cox spoke to ACE Northern Region about the challenges facing the Northern Powerhouse agenda. “We should be really cautious about how committed the Department for Transport is to the Northern Powerhouse agenda compared to where Osborne might be,” he said noting that the newly created cross regional Transport for the North organisation had so far been allocated just £30M to carry out a strategic review of Northern transport schemes ahead of a strategic plan being published in Spring 2016.

Comments

GBP2600 versus GBP380. And sustained for how many years...decades no doubt. And the South has the gall to condemn the North for its lack of productivity. Is it any wonder the rest of the UK flirts with the idea of federalism or joining an independent Scotland.
GBP2600 versus GBP380. And sustained for how many years...decades no doubt. And the South has the gall to condemn the North for its lack of productivity. Is it any wonder the rest of the UK flirts with the idea of federalism or joining an independent Scotland.
GBP2600 versus GBP380. And sustained for how many years...decades no doubt. And the South has the gall to condemn the North for its lack of productivity. Is it any wonder the rest of the UK flirts with the idea of federalism or joining an independent Scotland.