Northern Powerhouse group calls for action to turn around region’s ‘underperformance’

A body that aims to boost the Northern economy has told Chancellor Jeremy Hunt that action needs to be taken to reverse the region’s “continued underperformance”.

The Northern Powerhouse Partnership, a group set up by former Chancellor George Osborne, says that the North’s productivity is roughly 40% lower than that of London and the South East, with people in the region earning £8,400 less a year on average.

It has made a four-point submission to the Chancellor ahead of the spring Budget, calling for increased school funding of £1,000 for all long-term disadvantaged pupils. It also wants a review of the council tax system, pointing out that someone living in a £150,000 house in Hartlepool currently pays more than a person living in a £8m house in the Westminster area of London.

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The group also wants the Government to commit more to devolution, saying that new powers on retaining business rates and National Insurance in their areas could be used to improve public transport in the North. And it said that there is an urgent need to change the Government’s “rigid” fiscal rules to encourage more investment in infrastructure.

The group says: “The UK has persistently underinvested compared with its peers across both the public and private sectors. Our view, and one evidenced in the Northern Powerhouse Independent Economic Review, is that this investment gap is holding back the productive potential of both the Northern Powerhouse and UK economies. Attracting long term investment through the Mansion House Compact is of course welcome, but it must now be supported by a pragmatic approach to public sector borrowing for investment.

“If we are to deliver the much-needed infrastructure, including Northern Powerhouse Rail in full, spending decisions must not be hamstrung by rigid, arbitrary fiscal rules including requiring a falling debt ratio within five years. Rather than protecting the public finances, these damage them in the long term by constricting much needed economic growth.

“As Royal Society of Arts chief executive Andy Haldane has said: “Adhering to existing fiscal rules risks underinvesting today in tomorrow’s economic and environmental health. We therefore urge you to amend the current fiscal rules to allow important investment to be brought forward and the benefits to be realised sooner.”

A number of bodies are making submissions to the Chancellor in advance of March’s Budget. Yesterday the North East England Chamber of Commerce called for measures that include the re-opening of the Leamside rail line, action on business rates, improving public health in the North East and making it easier for companies to export.

Original artice – https://business-live.co.uk/all-about/yorkshire-humber

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