Five years on from the launch of the Northern Powerhouse, I’m glad there is a debate about its future.
It shows people care deeply about their communities and want to see them thrive. So do I, and so does the Government.
Like people in Greater Manchester, and across the North, I want to see more progress towards correcting the North South divide which has left our country’s economy unbalanced for too long. And I want to see it happen faster.
But now is also a time to reflect at how far the Northern Powerhouse has come since it was launched in Manchester five years ago.
We’re investing £13 billion in transport across the North which includes, an upcoming £3 billion investment into the Trans-Pennine route and support for HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail. For Greater Manchester we’re providing £663 million of Local Growth Funding and £312.5 million through the Industrial Strategy’s Transforming Cities Fund to fund local priorities, including Metrolink and the Bee Network – a cycling and walking network.
We are supporting businesses to grow and create jobs. The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund has injected £25 million into small and medium sized businesses in Manchester and 32,000 more people are employed in the north-west today compared to two years ago.
Almost half of people in the North are now represented by elected metro mayors with control over local spending plans and who provide their region with an influential voice on the national and international stages. The Greater Manchester Devolution Deal has given the mayor control over £7 billion and a mayor a range of powers covering transport, education and skills, housing and public services.
There have been 1,000 foreign direct investments in the Northern Powerhouse since 2014 and in the last financial year 26,500 businesses across the North exported £59.6 billionworth of goods. That’s up 2.4% since the previous year. Manchester is now the second most attractive city in the UK for foreign investment. This is quite an achievement and one to be proud of.
But the Government, like people across Greater Manchester and the whole North, wants to achieve even more.
In the last few weeks, the Northern Powerhouse’s first ambitious Local Industrial Strategy was launched for Greater Manchester with local communities working as equal partners with government. It focuses on the region’s strength in advanced manufacturing, digital and healthcare innovation. It also demonstrates the power of local people and the government working together to create good jobs, boost productivity and increase people’s earning power.
In my new extended Ministerial role, I will continue to be your champion for the North and our refreshed Northern Powerhouse Strategy later this year will set the agenda for the next five years, and beyond. The Northern Powerhouse is very much alive and well, and here to stay.