The Northern Powerhouse: Phase 2?

In June 2014 George Osborne, gave a speech at the world famous Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester setting out his vision for a ‘Northern Powerhouse’. It seems that the then chancellor was planning his long term future and this, many think, was something he had seen as his lasting legacy from his time in office.

The Northern Powerhouse: Phase 2?

Sadly Osborne and former Prime Minister David Cameron’s long term political careers were cut short having gambled and lost the Brexit referendum in June 2016.

It’s not difficult to see the temptation on their part; rebalancing the UK economy in order to stop reliance on economic activity from the capital by enriching the north and striking a balance. When you consider the horrendous nature of the attitudes of previous Conservative governments you can see how a progressive Tory like Cameron and his trusted lieutenant Osborne would be tempted to leave a legacy of wealth and prosperity across the whole of England for generations.

After the metaphorical sword was fallen on by both Cameron and Osborne it was the turn of Theresa May to ascend, unchallenged, to Number 10, and the task of bringing prosperity across the north. Chancellor Philip Hammond has perhaps proved the most loyal to her despite being side-lined for the ill-fated summer election in which the Tories lost their majority.

Upon taking office many were concerned, including Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, that May and Hammond were uninterested in continuing Osborne’s legacy, and they dropped hints to confirm those suspicions.

Despite that, Phillip Hammond has now confirmed his commitment to continuing the investment project, confirming more money for transport investment in the north in his conference speech in Manchester.

In wide ranging speech given to conference, much of it political in its criticism of Labour and Jeremy Corbyn, Hammond offered little in the way of policy except for an announcement of £400 million of investment for the Northern Powerhouse project, the details of which were passed to the media the weekend before the speech itself.

The money was earmarked specifically for transport links, and as reported in The Independent, the Chancellor said £300m will be reserved to establish connections between the HS2 rail route and cities in the North that are not directly on the route.

The Treasury claims this will speed journey times between cities such as Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds and York – bringing the department’s total spending to £13bn on transport in the North by 2020.

“The investment will go towards ensuring HS2 infrastructure can link up with future Northern Powerhouse and Midlands rail projects – helping the town and cities of the North reach their full potential,” Mr Hammond said.

The news has been treated positively by those in Manchester and the wider northern business community, although the speech itself was met with a shrug of the shoulders for its lack of depth.

With Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool and other northern property markets currently booming, improved transport links were welcomed with the expectation that easier links for travel will encourage more to move to the region.

Jobs, the economy and property are all performing extremely strongly in the cities, and this new announcement from the treasury is expected to boost these further.


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