Lord Blunkett echoes Sheffield Star's call to reverse decades of under-investment in the North

Lord BlunkettLord Blunkett
Lord Blunkett
Lord Blunkett has echoed the Sheffield Star’s call to reverse decades of under-investment in the North, in the week we joined forces with newspapers across our region to demand leaders turbo charge our economy.

The Star joined forces with 33 newspapers across the north, including our sister title the Yorkshire Post and the Manchester Evening News, on Monday for the Power Up The North collaboration. 

As part of the campaign, we issued an open letter to the nation’s decision makers with a number of policy demands including a new strategy to support the region’s industry; vital investment in our rail and road network and more money for our cash-strapped schools.

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In the House of Lords on Tuesday, Lord Blunkett, former Home Secretary and Sheffield Brightside MP, echoed our call to end decades of under-investment in the North.

This came during a discussion concerning the most recent GDP (gross domestic product) figures, during which Lord Young of Cookham said the most recent figures from the Office of National Statistics revealed England’s GVA (gross value added) to be £28,096 per head in 2017. 

GDP is calculated by adding the GVA of all sectors of economy with taxes added and subsidies are deducted. 

Lord Blunkett responded: “My Lords, is it not true—perhaps the Minister could confirm this—that the England figure hides the most enormous disparity between London and the south-east and the rest of the country? 

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“That gap in GVA, GDP and productivity can be met only by a proposal put forward by the commission chaired by the noble Lord, Lord Kerslake, equivalent to the kind of investment and programme put in place by West Germany when it combined with East Germany.

“That would overcome not only the disparity described this afternoon but the deep alienation and division that exists in our country.”

The open letter was sent to a number of political leaders, including the Tory MPs bidding to become the next Prime Minister, spelling out how ‘every day dither and delay risks leaving the North at an even greater disadvantage’. 

Other policy demands called for in the open letter include: the finances needed for a new generation of housing and greater devolution. 

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The campaign has been backed by the Conferation for British Industry, whose regional director for Yorkshire and the Humber, Beckie Hart said: “The next Prime Minister, whoever that might be, must take the issues that the North faces seriously – enough is enough.”

She added: “I want to pay tribute to the campaigning newspapers throughout the North on this issue. It would not be as high up the political agenda without their work. 

“This manifesto from Northern papers shows real appetite for change and growth – what we need now is a new partnersthip and the next Prime Minister that delivers.”