05.12.18

Brexit ‘chaos’ has held back the north as government has ‘deprioritised’ the Northern Powerhouse

The Northern Powerhouse has been “deprioritised” by government, with Brexit “chaos” preventing the north of England from realising its full potential, a think tank has warned.

The Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) North said that for the Northern Powerhouse to succeed, leaders in the region must wrestle back control from central government and make a “clear break” from its original vision.

Osborne at the time declared the project would become “a collection of northern cities sufficiently close to each other that, combined, they can take on the world,” but the report claimed that this has “defied any clear definition.”

The State of the North 2018 report said that, as the north faces “unprecedented challenges” with Brexit looming, council budgets reaching breaking point, and the NHS being put under extreme pressures.

The report’s author Luke Raikes wrote: “The government is so consumed by Westminster’s Brexit chaos that it has deprioritised the Northern Powerhouse agenda at the very time it is needed most. This cannot continue.

“All our regional economies face severe challenges – including London’s. Brexit threatens to make this much worse and the Northern powerhouse agenda is the best chance we have of fixing this national economic crisis. In the national interest, the north needs to thrive.”

According to the report, in real terms, weekly pay has fallen by £21 in the north of England since 2008, and public spending in the region has fallen by £6.3bn since 2009-10.

Liverpool City Region metro mayor, Steve Rotheram, commented: “The report could not be clearer - with the uncertainty of Brexit looming, giving the north more control over its destiny is not only the right thing for the north's economy, but the whole country's as well.”

“The north has huge potential for growth in advanced manufacturing, energy, health innovation, and digital industries, but we can only capitalise on these fully if the government give us the powers and the funding to do so.”

In the State of the North report, the fifth annual report of its kind, IPPR set out five priorities for northern leaders to take the Northern Powerhouse agenda into the next phase.

The think tank recommended moving away from the original focus on major cities and said the agenda must draw on all assets and focus on a diverse range of places, including towns, cities and rural areas – the “whole north.”

IPPR called for northern leaders to support job creation and productivity in high-growth sectors and invest in both infrastructure and people to “deliver economic justice.”

Roger Marsh, of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, said: “If the Northern Powerhouse concept is to have a long-term and meaningful future, it is through the north taking ownership and being given the powers and resources to fulfil our potential.”

At EvoNorth next year, devolution will be the centre of discussion between industry leaders and representatives, all focused on driving forward the Northern Powerhouse. Click here to find out more.

Image credit - Peter Byrne/PA Archive/PA Images

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