David Cameron and George Osborne appeared in Manchester on the 8th of January to promote their Northern Powerhouse initiative. This new scheme will see millions of pounds of investment going into the North West to create a hub with enough economic prosperity to rival the capital. The idea is to emulate the US, where a whole host of cities are successful independently.
The government’s new six point master plan focuses primarily on transport, science, infrastructure and culture. Although Cameron and Osborne noted how the region is blossoming, the North West has the fastest-growing employment rate in the whole country, they also agreed that there was “no quick fix” when it came to lessening the inequality between the North and South.
“The Northern Powerhouse will boost the local economy by £18billion or £2000 per person”
But this initiative promises to try. By 2030, it will boost the local economy by £18billion, or as Cameron pointed out- approximately £2000 per person in the region. He also guaranteed 25,000 new houses and 100,000 more people in employment by the next election, all thanks to long term investment from the government.
One of the ways the government intends for the North West to flourish is by promoting it as a global centre of “outstanding scientific innovation.” Focusing on material science, biomedicine, super-computing and energy with major investments in the universities and NHS teaching hospitals.
Another aspect of the master plan is the devolution of powers back to regional cities. Manchester is getting its own elected mayor, similar to Boris Johnson, who will have improved spending powers over Greater Manchester. This will allow local issues to be addressed in the city, rather than decisions coming from Whitehall, 200 miles away.
To truly build a powerhouse, greater connectivity between the North West and North East is needed, allowing cities to work fluidly together. This has been addressed in the past with suggestions to create a new railway line spanning a number of Northern cities, dubbed the ‘Northern Hub’. This latest speech focused on upgraded trans-Pennines roads and tunnels which government estimates say could cut road journeys by half an hour.
In total the government wants to invest £476.7million into Greater Manchester to see the city truly flourish. Those who benefit include the city’s tram network Metrolink with twelve new trams added to the fleet. Plus an investment programme will be created for local further education colleges and providers. The inequality between London and the rest of the country looks set to shrink. Soon Northern cities will be creating jobs and opportunities at the rate of the capital, attracting professionals back to the regions.