Government urged to set out a strategy for Northern Powerhouse

Roger Marsh OBERoger Marsh OBE
Roger Marsh OBE
the government has been urged to set out a clear strategy to ensure the Northern Powerhouse becomes a reality with calls for a number of specific measures to help the aspirations of people in the region.

Roger Marsh OBE, chair of the NP11 group of Northern Local Enterprise Partnerships, will outline the demands he says are necessary. Mr Marsh will call for a “coherent Northern Powerhouse strategy” when he speaks at a summit on the region’s future in Rotherham tomorrow (Friday Sept 13).

The Convention of the North with NP11 summit at the Magna Science Adventure Centre will bring together Local Enterprise Partnerships from across the North of England.

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It will see the largest ever gathering of political, business, community and academic leaders along with young people’s groups to debate and discuss the future of the region.

Mr Marsh has said the summit is about engaging with new Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Government to create a shared vision for the North and the positive contribution it can make to the UK as a whole.

Mr Marsh is due to say in the speech: “Firstly, we need a coherent Northern Powerhouse strategy that sets out a clear vision for where we want the North to be and an ambitious action plan to achieve it.

“This strategy should be designed and led by the North, working with Government, and must be long-term in its outlook – not just a collection of short-term initiatives.

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“To be truly successful, the Northern Powerhouse must be a thread running throughout Government policy, not an idea that waxes and wanes according to political circumstances.”

He said the Treasury could be given an “explicit objective” to level up the economy.

He said this would overhaul how we prioritise investment and would make this Government the first ever to make rebalancing a specific objective of the Treasury.

He said: “We mustn’t underestimate the scale of investment needed to tackle the systemic issues and historic underinvestment that prevent the North from fulfilling its potential.

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“According to work my LEP has done, Leeds City Region alone would need annual investment of £6bn or £2,000 per head over the medium term to catch up to the Greater Southeast.”

He said that after years of austerity “many will balk at this figure”, but he said if levelling up is really our goal, a step change is needed. “As a starting point it would be encouraging to see a series of lines specifically about the North in the November Budget,” he said. “An increase in funding for skills and education should be top of the list, as it’s only by tackling this that will we see long-term structural improvements in the North’s economic performance.

“Changing the way the Treasury decides on investments by no longer spending where growth is highest but where the interventions are most needed – like the North and other less productive regions – could reap real rewards for people, our economy and the Exchequer.”

Mr Marsh will conclude: “Today is the biggest event of its kind, bringing together everyone who has a stake in the North’s future to send a clear message to Government, and to one another, about the new North we want to create.

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It is our shared desire to see the full potential of the North unlocked that has brought us here today, and it is a shared commitment to bold action, united by a common vision for northern success, that will see our potential realised over the months and years ahead.”