IPPR North has today called for a Northern Powerhouse Community Fund, urging companies to make voluntary contributions equating to one per cent of their profits.
The scheme would go towards activity such as tackling homelessness or developing opportunities for young people, according to the Institute for Public Policy Research’s authors.
Places including Leeds, Yorkshire’s largest city, are facing major social issues such as rough sleeping and begging.
A number of recommendations include ending austerity in local government and allowing councils to levy a two per cent business rates premium for “social infrastructure”.
It also includes inviting combined authorities to propose their own taxes on business to fund activities that are additional to their statutory duties and committing to a comprehensive redesign of the current system of business rates.
Report author and research fellow at IPPR North, Jack Hunter, said: “The North of England has been fundamentally shaped by its industries and its businesses, and this legacy continues today. While there are far too many examples of exploitative firms, many northern businesses provide significant value to their area, above and beyond their role as employers and taxpayers.
“We need business to step up. Low pay, declining living standards and climate change mean that business as usual is no longer an option.
“We need tougher regulations to police the worst excesses of the private sector, but we also need to encourage firms to play a more civic role to ensure a fairer, more prosperous North.
“A community fund would help to ensure that the proceeds of investments made to business through the Northern Powerhouse agenda, are shared with everyone across the region.”
Decisions about where the funding should be spent would be made by an advisory committee of northern people, chosen at random, says the think-tank.
IPPR works to advance the voluntary sector and the efficiency of public services to serve or further a charitable purpose.
It also aims to relieve poverty, unemployment, or those in need because of youth, older age, ill-health, disability, financial hardship or any other disadvantage.
The “progressive” think-tank was publicly launched by Clive Hollick in 1988.