Plan could herald surge in growth

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. Pic: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. Pic: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
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The North of England could experience economic growth “not seen since the Victorian era of grand municipal development”, if the Government backs the Northern Powerhouse plan, according to an influential think-tank.

But the vision to end the region’s historic under-performance will only be achieved if key investments of up to £50 billion are made, according to IPPR North.

Analysis by the centre-left think-tank suggests that if the North had matched the national increase in economic output per head since 2003 its economy would be £5bn bigger, a 1.8 per cent increase.

It adds that if the three regions making up the North reversed its loss of people to other regions then, by 2030, its population would be 264,000, or 1.6 per cent, higher than forecast.

Director Ed Cox says there is “massive potential for businesses” in the North to “grow and drive the nation’s prosperity and productivity” but it can only be achieved by investment.

He added: “Many of the conditions are in place for the northern economy to experience economic growth at a scale not seen since the Victorian era of grand municipal development.

“The under-performance of the north of England is not natural, nor is it inevitable. We have seen attempts at ‘regional policy’ fall by the wayside, but the Northern Powerhouse has momentum and has galvanised leaders in the North.”

Chancellor George Osborne is behind the scheme to rebalance the UK economy by improving transport in the North and offering devolution deals.

But the Government has been accused of failing to deliver after it was revealed London is set to receive more funding for major projects than all the other English regions combined, and six times more per head of population than Yorkshire and the Humber, according to the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute.

The November Spending Review is seen as the next key moment in the project.

If no commitment was made it risked “being added to a list of failed regional initiatives,” Mr Cox added.