Powerhouse hopes pinned on Budget

Ed Cox, director, IPPR North.
Ed Cox, director, IPPR North.
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Next week’s summer Budget is the Chancellor’s big chance to turn the Northern Powerhouse from soundbite into reality, bosses in the North say.

They want the plan to go full steam ahead – but are demanding power and cash from central Government.

They say Westminster must be more radical in devolving funding for transport and infrastructure, to counterbalance the ‘skewed’ investment in London schemes such as Crossrail.

They are fuming over a ‘pause’ in rail upgrade schemes in the North, announced last week. And they are all too aware no cash has yet to be confirmed for the North - and that must be addressed in the Budget next week.

The Conservatives called a second Budget in 2015 after winning the General Election in May.

The opinions were recorded in a survey by thinktank, Institute of Public Policy Research North, with firms from the North West, North East and Yorkshire and Humber.

Ed Cox, director of IPPR North, said: “Northern businesses have overwhelmingly embraced the Northern Powerhouse agenda and welcome the fact central Government is finally ‘talking up’ the North.

“But despite its remarkable popularity, it must go beyond its current guise as a brand. Bosses told us they want to see a more radical devolution of powers and funding over key economic issues such as transport, infrastructure and business rates.

“This means the Powerhouse can go forward full steam ahead, ensuring northern prosperity can create national prosperity.

“But there are substantial risks, from the inevitable focus on London and Scotland, to the continued squeeze on public spending. The Budget is a prime opportunity for the Government to put its money where its mouth is.”

The survey also found bosses wanted a leader to represent the region and put local rivalries aside.

Treasury minister Jim O’Neill last week said plans to improve transport in the North could be announced in the Budget on Wednesday July 8.