31 March 2016 The role of utilities The economy is one thing but the right infrastructure has to be in place. Four of the North’s utility companies explain their role. Photo: iStock Sign UpGet the New Statesman's Morning Call email. Sign-up Economic regeneration is happening right across the north of England, and a new independent report has revealed that the region’s largest utility companies are playing a fundamental role, by generating approximately £2bn for the local economy each year. By working together as Infrastructure North, Northern Gas Networks, Northern Powergrid, Yorkshire Water and Northumbrian Water have the potential to be a driving force in the UK economy. These companies provide essential services to 13 per cent of the UK population – more than eight million people. The Infrastructure North report, which was launched at the House of Commons in December, shows that for every £1 the four companies invest, a ripple effect of 87p additional spend in the region is created. Over the next five years, they will generate additional investment of £10bn in the north through operational and capital expenditure projects and a further £1.3bn on salaries. Since 2013 these utilities have grown their supply chains by 40 per cent, creating work for 33 per cent more businesses within the north and generating 9,000 jobs. The companies are also tackling key issues where they have a part to play to improve the health and well-being of the region. These include skills and training, poverty, resource efficiency, education, innovation projects, environmental impact and more. The Infrastructure North collaboration is unique and one that senior political figures are urging others to follow. James Wharton MP, Minister for the Northern Powerhouse, said: “I’m very pleased to see collaboration – the key lifeblood of the Northern Powerhouse – between these companies to align plans for growth and invest in long-term solutions. I’d welcome further collaboration with other companies across the north to extend this good work. “I commend these companies for the way they are helping to sustain economic growth in the north, and improve the health and well-being of their regions. I am sure you will read the report with great interest.” Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed, who hosted the launch of the report at the House of Commons, said: “We have an expectation that when we turn on our taps that water will come out, turn the central heating on and our homes will become warm or flick a switch that the lights will come on, and rightly so. “But as we will hear, it is time we as leaders be more mindful of how we can work with those who supply our energy and water to make sure our investments get the best outcomes for our communities. Clearly, together we can make our region even stronger.” To read the full report or get involved visit: infrastructurenorth.co.uk › To save British steel, we need cool heads and strong action from government Subscribe For more great writing from our award-winning journalists subscribe for just £1 per month!