A child born in the North of England is no less ambitious than a child born anywhere else in the country. The Government has a plan to make sure everyone, regardless of their background, regardless of where in the North they live, can fulfil their full potential. That plan is called the Northern Powerhouse.
But the UK’s economy is still cast too narrowly – with London accounting for over a fifth of our total output. It’s not just the North that’s missing out – we are all poorer as a result, because successful cities build and thrive on the innovations of each other. That’s why devolution is at the heart of our Northern Powerhouse. It is integral to delivering inclusive growth, rebalancing power away from our capital back to our regions and delivering sustainable economic growth for our people.
From no mayoral devolution back in 2015, now we have mayors in Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, the Tees Valley and in Newcastle North of the Tyne. Mayors across the North of England are already changing the balance of power from South to North and from Whitehall to the Town Hall. We don’t always agree but that’s no bad thing, and when we work together we can build unstoppable momentum for our shared ambition. By putting the levers of economic growth in the hands of people in the North, with local decisions taken at the local level, we can release the North’s true potential. Each of these mayors is a living embodiment of the Northern Powerhouse and its achievements.
Our growth has been extraordinary and as someone who has lived and worked in the North for their entire life, I can see the change. The Northern Powerhouse now boasts an economy worth over £337 billion – larger than Austria or Norway. Sheffield, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and Sunderland are all proudly leading the way in advanced manufacturing, the financial sectors, media, digital technology and research. From the BBC’s flagship headquarters in Salford to the new home of Channel 4’s regional headquarters in Leeds, the Northern Powerhouse is a booming centre for media in the UK.
A growing economy needs to be one that is super connected. The Government is determined to rebalance the national economy and give a resurgent North the investment and powers it needs to flourish. We’re investing over £13 billion in transport, providing state-of the-art trains and rapid connections between the cities. Soon, thanks to our investment in HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, the North will also have same of the fastest trains in the world and will be one of the best-connected regions in the UK. So, while we may debate the pace of change, do not doubt our commitment.
In the most recent Budget we set out our commitment to create a new strategy for a new era for the Northern Powerhouse. For me, the Northern Powerhouse 2.0 must be the industrial strategy for the North of England, moving beyond a city-centric approach to create inclusive growth everywhere. We are focusing on how we can create growth in rural areas and ensure the border between Scotland and England is no barrier to business through the Borderlands growth deal. And this week, the Prime Minister announced the Government’s Stronger Towns Fund to ensure our towns can grow and prosper. Five years ago, our Northern cities were talked about as left behind places. We have changed that narrative and now I want to do the same for our towns and all parts of the North. It’s time to focus our ambition to develop the next phase of growth across the North so no one is left behind.