It’s been five years since George Osborne’s speech in Manchester coined the now often-used phrase ‘the Northern Powerhouse’. Loved and loathed in equal measures, it’s become the go-to shorthand for the mission to reinvigorate the North’s economies. A bid for the North to become greater than the sum of its parts.
Five years on and with transport high on the national agenda – Transport for Greater Manchester – TfGM – look at five reasons to be hopeful and five reasons to keep the pressure on for Northern Powerhouse.
5 reasons to be hopeful…
- Our #OneNorth voice… in the last 12 months Northern leaders have come together for the first time to outline their collective vision for the future. Northern media outlets have also joined forces to make the case through both the #OneNorth and #PowerUptheNorth campaigns – it’s clear the North is on the same page, and we’re making our voice heard.
- Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR)… The high-level business case for NPR was agreed by Northern leaders and submitted to Government earlier this year. The recent comments by Chancellor Phillip Hammond have been positive – with a clear recognition of the economic benefits of backing the transformative programme.
- We have a clear, costed, evidence-based plan… the Government asked, the North responded – through our Strategic Transport Plan and Investment Programme TfGM have outlined a clear pipeline of projects that would transform the way people and businesses travel across the North.
- Early wins… Already this year we’ve seen funding secured by partners for projects in our investment programme. These include £102 million for the Carlisle Southern Link Road in Cumbria, £142 million for the Warrington Western Link road, and £40 million for the A1231 in Sunderland.
- Transport in the North is firmly on the national agenda… thanks to Northern leaders and our Northern media, transport investment in the North is firmly on the national agenda – this is particularly important with a new Prime Minister in the coming months.
5 reasons to keep the pressure on…
- The ball is in the Government’s court… our Northern leaders have signed off a clear plan, but we still need funding commitments from Government. With the Autumn Spending Review just a couple of months away, the Government has an opportunity to show its commitment to the North – now more than ever we need to make sure our case is heard.
- Rail chaos of May 2018 and changing rail industry… the chaos of last spring’s timetable changes battered the travelling public. The investigations and reports that followed made it clear the current system doesn’t prioritise passengers, and this needs to change. The upcoming Williams Review is a key moment to make structural changes to improve the North’s railways.
- Research shows there’s still a North/South gap, and in many cases it’s widening… recent IPPR North reports show that the North continues to fall behind in a number of key areas – including child poverty and weekly pay. In addition, they found that since 2014 transport spending in the North has increased by £149 per person in real terms, but this is less than half the £330 per person increase in London. We need real investment in the North to reverse this.
- The way investment decisions are made… From the way projects are appraised, to which Government departments fund projects – current funding models are stacked against the North. We need to keep the pressure on to ensure our projects don’t fall at the first hurdle and make the most compelling cases we can.
- Greater devolution and say for the North… Our Strategic Transport Plan shows that the North can come together across party lines and county boundaries and is willing and able to take control of its own destiny. Whether at local, regional or pan-Northern level, the eventual legacy of the Northern Powerhouse must feature more devolution.