What is the Northern Powerhouse

 

Northern powerhouse info gramThe much-discussed Northern Powerhouse has been a key project for the current government since 2014, often being quoted by key political figures such as the Prime Minister David Cameron and the Chancellor George Osborne. The North East Times, the North’s premier business publication, investigates what the Northern Powerhouse is and why it is so important.

In his speech at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne laid out the government’s plans to re-address the economic divide between the North and the South of England. It was during this speech in June 2014, that the term Northern Powerhouse was first used.

During his speech, the Chancellor said that the larger cities in the region were ‘individually strong, but collectively not strong enough’ and that the ‘whole is less than the sum of its parts.’ He went on to unveil the government’s answer to this issue: to encourage the cities of Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, Liverpool, Hull, Newcastle, and the area of the Tees Valley, to forge strong links together in order to draw more international and national investment.

The Chancellor identified that transport between the cities as a key area for development, saying: “And yet today the transport network in the north is simply not fit for purpose – and certainly not good enough, if we want our cities to pool their strengths.” He went on to say that there were plans to improve the region’s transport links, especially via rail, road, and air.

In addition to improving the region’s transport, Osborne also stressed that he wanted to see the area become somewhere that science and innovation can thrive — highlighting that the region had many top universities and there was no reason why it couldn’t attract major investment in these industries.

The Chancellor eventually expanded upon the government’s devolution plans, which were already underway at the time of the speech. The plans involved making City Deals with local authorities to give them greater autonomy in the way things were run in their areas. Osborne said that 25 deals has already been reached, and securing more was a priority for the government. In September 2015, David Cameron revealed that they had received 38 proposals for City Deals from authorities around the UK in his Spending Review speech.

This is not the first time a government has tried to rebalance the North/South economic divide, and this latest attempt is not without its critics. However, the plans for a Northern Powerhouse have steadily grown for the public and private sectors in the region, though it remains to be seen whether all of the government’s plans will come to fruition — the true results of the project will only become known in the coming decades.

 

 

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