Tory MPs demand 'northern recovery plan' from Chancellor's Budget

The Prime Minister and Chancellor must come up with a northern recovery plan which recognises that the pandemic has “exacerbated” the regional inequalities suffered in the region, an influential group of Tory MPs has said.

Former Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry. Photo: JPI Media

The Northern Research Group (NRG), which is headed up by former Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry - and includes many Conservative Yorkshire MPs in its membership - has written to Rishi Sunak ahead of the Budget, as Mr Berry said nowhere had been hit as badly by the pandemic as the North.

The 50-strong group has urged Mr Sunak to extend the £20 uplift in Universal Credit and business rate relief, and well as a reduction of VAT payments for the hospitality sector.

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And Mr Berry has previously called for a Northern Recovery Bond to create billions of pounds of private investment.

He said: “The Northern Research Group was the first to call on the Prime Minister to set out a ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown. His announcement on Monday evening is welcomed, but the Government can and should go further to support those who have been worst affected by this pandemic – no other part of the country has been in lockdown more than the North has.

“The economic impact on families and on businesses across our region is significant. It has exacerbated regional inequalities and has left many families and businesses on a cliff edge as they struggle to stay afloat and make payments.”

Mr Berry warned that any further lockdowns “would be disastrous for our region”, and he added: “With each passing day our recovery will take longer, and people simply can’t afford another lockdown.”

“The Prime Minister has to get it right, but he should also bring forward a tailored Northern Economic Recovery Plan to help our region build back better from this pandemic,” he said, and he added: “The Chancellor must extend support for families and businesses in his budget next week. We cannot keep both businesses closed and deny people the opportunity of earning a living. We have to provide support to people as this lockdown continues.”

Mr Sunak’s Budget on Wednesday is understood to have a heavy focus on the Government’s levelling up agenda.