Next steps for the Northern Powerhouse


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George Osborne: Government failing to deliver Northern Powerhouse

Northern Powerhouse Partnership set out the four big ideas to rebalance the economy and challenges Downing Street to adopt them

 - A Northern schools challenge. Hundreds of Northern schools need direct government intervention to prevent another generation of young people falling behind

 - A firm financial commitment to the big infrastructure needed to rebalance the UK economy, especially high-speed rail across the North from Liverpool to Hull

 - Complete devolution with mayors covering all major urban areas of the North

 - Give the North the tools to do the job – government need to allow the North to pilot road user charging to pay for much-needed local transport improvements.

Former Chancellor George Osborne will say today [TUES] the Northern Powerhouse is suffering from this government’s lack of vision – and it’s time to see some action.

From transport to education, ministers have failed to capitalise on significant business backing and the early success of Metro Mayors in four Northern city regions. 

Two-thirds of secondary schools teaching the most disadvantaged pupils in the country which make the slowest educational progress are in the North, research from the Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP) reveals.

White working-class boys entrenched in poverty are most at risk of falling behind, and need targeted interventions from government to tackle their lack of attainment.

The Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP) are today launching a series of proposals for how to narrow the North-South divide. Key to this is tackling disadvantage, which holds back so many of our young people and is why many schools overall perform far worse than those in other parts of the country. The report calls for an extra £1bn a year from within the rising education budget for five years to reform pupil premium.

Further, more meaningful, powerful devolution to the North is vital to the success of the Northern Powerhouse; taking city region deals over the line, giving Transport for the North more control over the Northern transport network and giving the North the power to introduce road pricing as fuel duty revenues start to fall as electric vehicle use increases. Road pricing could raise £8bn a year to be spent in the North on improving transport.

Major long-term investment in transport infrastructure provides part of the solution. NPP Chair Mr Osborne will tell the Great Northern Conference in Leeds today that transformational projects such as HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail will allow young people across the North to access skilled jobs and educational opportunities, while also revolutionising productivity in the North.

The rail network in the North is in need of a major overhaul – connecting Northern Powerhouse cities and towns to the world through a station at Manchester Airport, opening up new labour markets in the Midlands and beyond and increasing capacity to London. Northern leaders are urging the government to give the green light to the £39bn plan for Northern Powerhouse Rail, the transformational east-west rail connection, and guarantee that it opens in the North at the same time as HS2; 2033.

To take advantage of this enhanced connectivity, a £250m housing fund is needed to build new garden and urban villages around key areas, such as Manchester Airport and Bradford. Digital connectivity is crucial, with a need to roll out fibre to the premises to every business and home in the top 30 Northern towns and cities by 2025.

Hosted by Ranvir Singh from ITV, the Great Northern Conference will hear from key Northern and UK leaders including Professor Juergen Maier, CEO of Siemens UK; Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester; Sir Peter Hendy, Chairman of Network Rail, Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry MP and Cllr Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council.

NPP Chair George Osborne said: “Five years on from the Northern Powerhouse being launched, our idea continues to get stronger and stronger. We have devolved Mayors, new science centres and better infrastructure. Above all, Northern communities and businesses understand that by working together the whole of the North can be stronger. 

“But the Northern Powerhouse is suffering from a lack of vision from the government. Indeed, it’s hard to think of a single original idea that has come out of this Downing Street to advance the Northern Powerhouse. So today I’m proposing some policy ideas that would breathe life back into this government’s claim that it supports the North. It’s time for some action.”

Cllr Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council, said: “The North is getting organised and as civic leaders we will ensure the Northern Powerhouse works for our communities. As Leeds has shown by attracting Channel 4, we don’t lack ambition and that is why we need key investments like HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, which will connect my city of Leeds to Bradford and beyond to Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Hull and Sheffield.

“The government needs to back us with the necessary infrastructure and demonstrate the same support as our businesses who are creating jobs in the North. Inclusive growth means we must do everything possible to share the benefits of our future success, including to stop young people from disadvantaged areas – notably white working-class estates – being left behind.

“The powers we need over education, including a Northern Schools Board and the capacity to better fund those schools with biggest challenges, is as important an investment as any road or railway. We need it all to be able to fulfil the North’s potential and drive our ambitions for those growing up in cities like mine today.”

Delegates at today’s conference, at New Dock Hall in Leeds, will hear from speakers on the key challenges facing the North: Education and Skills, Connectivity, Digital Growth, Business Growth & the importance of the SME market and Innovation and the Next Industrial Revolution. The headline sponsors are Yorkshire Bank.

Notes for Editors

Members of the media who would like to attend the conference should contact Daniel Cochlin - 07838 228052, or register via this link and use the code NPPGUEST.

The agenda for the conference can be found at

The full report, Next Steps for the Northern Powerhouse, is available to download. The recommendations are below:

  1. Secure an extra £1bn a year to increase the impact of pupil premium for the most disadvantaged children and young people in the North. Establish a Northern Schools Board, with power to take over failing academy chains and scale up existing ones. 
  2. Build HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail by 2033 to create a high-speed rail network for the North, boosting economic growth and access to skilled jobs.
  3. Establish a £250m Housing Investment Fund to build new communities around Northern Powerhouse Rail stations and areas earmarked for growth, including Cheshire - Manchester Airport growth corridor and Bradford.
  4. Raise almost £8bn a year by scrapping fuel tax and excise duty in the North and replace with locally-controlled road charging, following a report by an independent commission of experts
  5. Secure devolution deals for Cheshire & Warrington, across Yorkshire & the Humber, and Lancaster & South Cumbria with universal coverage of remaining areas by combined authorities.
  6. Guarantee that the Northern settlement for the Shared Prosperity Fund will be at least as much as current EU funding, supporting skills and infrastructure and fully held in the North. 
  7. Deliver fibre to the premises to every business and home in the top 30 Northern towns and cities by 2025.
  8. Encourage thousands more businesses to embrace the next Industrial Revolution by rolling out the Made Smarter pilot in the North West to the whole of the North.
  9. Rebalance spending on R&D so Northern universities have the equivalent share as those in the South.
  10. Establish world-class Northern capabilities that are privately funded, including support through Treasury guarantees for major projects.