Rishi Sunak must deliver on pledge to rewrite the book on Northern investment: The Yorkshire Post says

While Rishi Sunak’s first Budget as Chancellor in March was swiftly overtaken by events as the coronavirus pandemic led to unpredecented public spending decisions to keep as many jobs and businesses afloat as possible, one of the promises he made during it holds one of the keys to bringing Yorkshire and the UK out of the severe recession that is now unfolding.

Rishi Sunak delivering his Budget in the House of Commons, London. Picture: Parliament/Jessica Taylor/PA Wire

Mr Sunak promised to “change the whole mindset of Government” to help deliver on the Conservatives’ ‘levelling-up’ agenda, starting with a review of the so-called Green Book – the Treasury rules used to evaluate major state investment projects that are currently weighted in favour of London and the South-East.

The existing strength of the economy in those areas means they are perceived by the rules as a safer bet for returns on Government investment – leading to equally worthy Northern projects being overlooked.

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As Sheffield City Region mayor Dan Jarvis powerfully puts it in this newspaper today, changing those rules could at the stroke of a pen in Whitehall deliver millions of pounds of vitally-needed investment in the North of England.

Changes to the Green Book rules were already vital in helping to reduce the North-South divide prior to coronavirus.

But they now offer an opportunity to provide the region and the country with an exit route from the unfolding economic crisis, which is expected to hit many communities in Yorkshire particularly hard.

This is no time for business as usual in all areas of life and the same principle applies here. The focus should not merely be on economic recovery and returning things to how they were but instead seizing the moment to renew regions like Yorkshire.

As the proverb goes, in the midst of every crisis, there lies opportunity. That opportunity simply must be grasped.

Editor’s note: first and foremost - and rarely have I written down these words with more sincerity - I hope this finds you well.

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James Mitchinson