Mace and Arup-backed report calls for more devolution and better infrastructure

Taking action to boost the Northern Powerhouse could unlock £100bn of economic benefit and create 850,000 jobs over the next three decades, former chancellor George Osborne’s think tank has said.

In its first report to be launched by Osborne in Leeds this morning, the Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP) sets out proposals to devolve more powers and better connect cities and counties in the north of England.

Among the recommendations are improving: the performance and aspiration of the North’s schools; the quality of adult skills; the east-west transport infrastructure that connects key Northern cities and Manchester Airport as well as its connectivity to the South; fibre and broadband provision; attractiveness to business investment; and the overall level of ambition in local decision making.

Over 200 businesses - including construction group Mace and engineer Arup - as well as civic and academic leaders contributed to the report.

Osborne, who launched the NPP last September, said: “There is a real excitement across the North at present. The Northern Powerhouse initiative, which I launched two years ago, has already shifted the North into a new gear.

“Over the past few months I have met hundreds of business leaders across the North and visited new investment projects. The Northern Powerhouse is real and together we can transform the economy of the North of England.”

Steve Gillingham, director of the North at Mace, said: “For the UK to succeed, all parts of the country need to grow. This report provides a blueprint of how the North can truly compete on a global stage by improving our skills base, investing in infrastructure, driving innovation, and delivering devolution.”

Dave Newton, director at Arup, said: “The business case for the North is clear. We need to do more to advance our regional towns and cities to build an economic powerhouse capable of rebalancing the UK economy.”

The NPP report’s recommendations for infrastructure and assets

Faster journey times
It is only by achieving the city-to-city (and city-to-airport) road and rail travel times across the Northern Powerhouse which are aspired to by TfN that we can gain the agglomeration benefits from the North becoming a series of super-connected economies. The North should:
- Speed up journey times, capacities and reliabilities between major Northern cities and its key gateway airport in line with TfN aspirations.

Leading the way on ultra-fast “fibre-to-the-premises” broadband
Exploiting many of the prime capabilities of the North in addition to promoting the adoption of new technologies and encouraging digital developments will be reliant on the provision of full fibre infrastructure across the region. The North should:
- Be a leading European region in ultra-fast fibre to the premises broadband.

Centres of science and innovation
Science Institutes, supported by industrial and academic partners, provide an opportunity for the UK to stay ahead in vital areas of research and innovation to ensure growth in both the regional and national economy. The North should:
- Have at least four major pan Northern centres of science excellence linked to each of the region’s four prime capabilities (Health Innovation; Energy; Advanced Manufacturing/ Materials; Digital.)