Northern Powerhouse offers blueprint for recovery

Northern Powerhouse Partnership, a powerful group of business and political leaders, has published five recommendations for how the Government can rebalance the economy. Tony McDonough reports

Openreach, broadband, internet
New, faster internet infrastructure is key to the growth of the Northern economy

 

Transport infrastructure, training, broadband, green energy and education are the five areas identified by northern business leaders as the key to post-coronavirus recovery.

The Northern Powerhouse Partnership, a powerful group of business and political leaders, has published five recommendations for how the Government can rebalance the economy from Liverpool to Hull and create thousands of jobs.

The proposals – backed by major UK businesses – are supported by polling of more than 1,700 people across the North. Results show high levels of support for greater local control in the form of devolution.

It revealed eight out of 10 Northeners indicating support for boosting training and education funding and around one in two backing investment in roads, rail and fibre broadband. The five recommendations are:

  • Training for those who have lost their jobs or left school during the Coronavirus lockdown by devolving skills funding to existing mayors. 
  • Providing extra teaching for children who have fallen behind in school work during the crisis with an an initial £300m cash injection into schools.
  • Create green energy jobs with a roll-out of a small modular reactor factory-based building programme, establishment of at least one carbon capture and storage cluster and expansion of jobs in wind, tidal and battery storage supply chains for major schemes.
  • Building new railways and roads by accelerating elements of High Speed North, such as Leeds to Newcastle and Sheffield to Manchester, as well as starting on new lines between Leeds and Manchester/Liverpool where possible.
  • Providing faster broadband to every household. 

Ensuring that fibre broadband connectivity is as good in ‘left-behind’ towns in the North as it is in major cities is also seen as vital to allowing those who can work from home to be as productive as possible during the crisis and beyond.

Northern Powerhouse Partnership director Henri Murison said: “The Northern Powerhouse is an economic vision to increase the contribution the North makes to the UK economy. Never has that been more relevant than now as we attempt to emerge from this terrible pandemic.

“Our proposals set out five practical, deliverable investments that the Government could embrace to allow the UK economy to grow again, creating jobs in new, green industries and help to transform the productivity of the North.”

The plan has the backing of Tristia Harrison, chief executive of communications giant, TalkTalk, who added: “As our lives increasingly move online, access to fast, reliable and affordable broadband has never been so important. 

Building world-class digital infrastructure, alongside the immediate jobs this will create, will be central to the economic recovery, especially in the North.  Better internet is part of the step change we need to level the playing field and create the right environment so that our towns and cities can thrive.

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