Government continues its momentum of rebalancing the country’s development focus
The recent Autumn Budget demonstrated the importance the UK Government has placed in the Northern Powerhouse as the country’s emerging economic juggernaut. Allocations have been made into the transport and digital tech sectors, giving the northern economy a huge boost in jobs creation and population.
The UK Government continues its momentum of rebalancing the country’s development focus, reducing its concentration in London and pushing it up towards the North. The importance of investing in the Northern Powerhouse to drive economic growth, has been recognised in the Chancellor’s recent Autumn Budget, with increased funding announced for infrastructure across the North.
The Northern Powerhouse, an initiative by David Cameron’s government, was established to boost economic growth in the North of England, particularly in what is termed as the “Core Cities”, namely Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, Hull and Newcastle. Its aim is to reposition the British economy, shifting the traditional focus from London and the South East, to the North.
In the Budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond promised a £1.7bn Transforming Cities Fund to improve transport links between suburbs and cities outside of London. Half this amount will go to the six combined authorities with elected metro mayors, including £243m for Greater Manchester and £134m for the Liverpool City Region. The other half will go to the other cities by way of bidding.
The fund is designed to address weaknesses in city transport systems to spread prosperity by improving connectivity, reducing congestion and introducing new mobility services and technology. In practice, it will mean spending on improving buses, trams, cycle lanes and other initiatives in the regions.
In the Budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond promised a £1.7bn Transforming Cities Fund to improve transport links between suburbs and cities outside of London. Half this amount will go to the six combined authorities with elected metro mayors, including £243m for Greater Manchester and £134m for the Liverpool City Region.
Transport links are important to drive the regional economy, allowing growing businesses to tap into the local workforce. As the economy develops and cities expand, demand for housing will grow with the population increase it brings. This makes property a favourable investment to make, especially in the light of the severe shortage of housing in the UK.
Additionally, the fund will allow links between the new High Speed 2 (HS2) stations and local transport networks, complementing its development in improving movement throughout the regions. The HS2 is a planned high-speed railway in the United Kingdom which is poised to be the new backbone of the national rail network, linking London, Birmingham, the East Midlands, Leeds and Manchester.
A sum of £300m will go towards ensuring that the HS2’s infrastructure can accommodate future Northern Powerhouse Rail and Midlands Connect services. This would enable faster services between the Northern cities of Liverpool and Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds and York, as well as towards the East Midlands and London.
Chris Grayling, the Secretary of State for Transport said: “Investment in transport is crucial to a strong and resilient economy. The Transforming Cities Fund will drive productivity and growth in cities where this is most needed, connecting communities and making it quicker and easier for people to get around.
“We have already seen the impact of better integrated transport links for both passengers and the local economy in cities like Nottingham and Manchester. This new fund will enable more English cities to reap these benefits, helping to deliver the opportunities and ambition of the Industrial Strategy across the country, as well as driving forward the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine.”
The Industrial Strategy is Prime Minister Theresa May’s road-map for boosting productivity growth and encouraging investment in the UK, to help deliver a “stronger economy and a fairer society”. On the other hand, the Midlands Engine is the initiative to drive economic growth in the Midlands regions, in cities like Birmingham, Stoke-on-Trent and Nottingham — the Midlands’ equivalent to the Northern Powerhouse.
The Chancellor also announced additional funding for development projects in the North, targeted towards the business, technology, research and development sectors, building upon work done previously.