The recent arrival of three new combined authority mayors across the North is a welcome development at a time when the UK has been constrained by being one of the most centralised economies in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). These mayors will understand their communities better than national administrations and will also be more accountable to them, which will hopefully lead to a greater focus on problem solving rather than circular debates.
This structure will also better link together the cities of the north of England and allow the region the kind of advantages of scale that bigger cities such as London enjoy. There is no doubt that following their arrival, new mayors will enable the Northern Powerhouse to kick on and create the additional 850,000 jobs that we believe can be delivered by 2050. Fail to take this opportunity, and the North will fall further behind and the UK economy and will become even more unbalanced.
These metro mayors stood for election in parts of our country where there has been a growing frustration with globalisation and in particular, the lack of regional opportunity that it has generated. Free trade, and new and open technology have increased living standards and opportunities for many, but there are also legitimate concerns which have created political and social upheaval.
The Rt Hon George Osborne, chair of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, has advanced the case that the most effective response to these concerns should be encouraging further localisation, rather than lurching towards nationalism or isolationism. In our first report, published in February, The Northern Powerhouse Partnership identified what more still needs to be done to build a Northern Powerhouse where more people want to live, invest and set up businesses. Amongst these priorities, leadership was identified as a key driver and local leaders will have greater control over more decisions that affect their communities.
It will also be imperative for business to collaborate with the new mayors. The northern business community must work with the public sector, and central Government, to raise the regions collective ambition and voice in front of investors about what can be achieved and delivered in the North. The North should be a magnet for people looking to invest and grow a business whilst also enjoying an excellent quality of life. Further investment will drive regeneration and benefit all communities. With more economic power at their fingertips, business should also begin to see real impacts. By challenging where more is still needed to better educate the North’s children and invest in the skills of its current workforce, taken together this will hopefully revolutionise the North of England. They will make our shared vision for the next three decades, to be achieved by 2050, one based on concrete strategy and actions.
With more economic power at their fingertips, business should also begin to see real impacts. By challenging where more is still needed to better educate the North’s children and invest in the skills of its current workforce, taken together this will hopefully revolutionise the North of England. They will make our shared vision for the next three decades, to be achieved by 2050, one based on concrete strategy and actions.
The Northern Powerhouse Partnership has a business-led board, including representatives from key companies operating across the North alongside prominent city leaders.
In partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies, the What Works Centre and Centre for Cities we have designed a structured programme of support that we have offered each of the new combined authority mayors. Through this support, and our wider work, we are committed to helping deliver a localisation of power that will further rebalance the UK economy.
By Henri Murison. Henri is the Director of The Northern Powerhouse Partnership which represents businesses and civic leaders across the North and is chaired by former Chancellor George Osborne.