Ambitious plans to build a Northern Powerhouse remain a key government priority, two of the key ministers tasked with driving forward the work confirmed this week.
Commercial Secretary to the Treasury Jim O’Neill and Northern Powerhouse Minister Andrew Percy, both proud Northerners, will lead the work across the whole of government to help make the north a powerhouse for the UK economy once again and build on the strong progress of the last two years.
The ministers’ comments come ahead of the first official tour by Mr Percy to the North since his appointment and today he will visit Hull, Manchester and Liverpool to hear for himself how devolving greater power from Whitehall to Town Halls and greater investment is already leading to the creation of jobs and stronger economic growth.
Key achievements for the Northern Powerhouse to date include:
- five historic devolution deals have been agreed across the Northern Powerhouse – in Sheffield, Greater Manchester, North-East, Tees Valley and Liverpool
- 55% of the population of the Northern Powerhouse will vote in an elected Mayor next year, giving each area a powerful new voice in national life
- major investment in transport has been committed including a new rail franchise on the Northern network delivering 2,000 extra services each week, £200 million for Transport for the North and a £60 million package for exploring work on HS3
- attracting foreign investment – there has been 127% growth in the number of foreign direct investment projects in the Northern Powerhouse over the last two years with the North-West outperforming every other region in the UK
- the employment rate in the Northern Powerhouse is close to its record high, and since June 2014 unemployment has fallen faster in the North than in the South
Commercial Secretary to the Treasury Jim O’Neill said: “Making our great northern towns and cities a powerhouse for the economy once again is the reason I joined government, and there is evidence everywhere you look that our plans have already made a real impact.
It is fantastic to be able to continue to champion the Northern Powerhouse within the very heart of government and there will be no let-up in our commitment to fuel the local economy through encouraging foreign investment, improving transport and creating new jobs.”
Northern Powerhouse Minister Andrew Percy said: “Building the Northern Powerhouse is a long-term government priority and central to our plans to rebalance the economy.
As a proud Northerner, I am determined to ensure that people in every part of the North – from large cities to small rural communities – enjoy greater control over their lives and stronger, more sustainable economic growth.
That’s why this government will continue to support major investments to unlock the potential of the North and ensure that every area benefits from a growing economy.”