Written by: Keith Tully
Published: 20th March 2015
Chancellor George Osborne has pledged further support for plans to see the north of England become a true economic powerhouse to rival London and other major cities and regions across Europe.
Key elements of the chancellor’s apparent backing of the north include planned investments worth up to £4.5 billion into the region’s transport infrastructure and the extension of ‘enterprise zones’ in Manchester and on Merseyside.
There are also plans for a new enterprise zone to be created in Blackpool, with these zones all designed to incentivise high-tech companies towards establishing operations in the North West.
Ultimately, the aim is to see the economy of northern England boosted by as much as £18 billion between 2015 and 2030, and for thousands of new jobs to be created across the region as a result.
In his remarks addressed to the House of Commons this week, Osborne pointed out that the North West of England is currently creating jobs at a faster rate than any other region in the UK, with 117,000 having been added over the past 12 months alone.
“This Budget marks another milestone in our plan to build a Northern Powerhouse, and our plan is working for people in the North West. We mustn’t turn back now,” he said.
Osborne went on to outline plans for phased devolution in the North of England, with a number of local councils being given the right from April to retain 100 per cent of any additional business rates their region generates beyond official estimates.
“By allowing Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Cheshire East to retain 100 per cent of any additional growth in business rates, the chancellor will effectively hand money raised through growth, back to the people who have helped to create the right conditions for business expansion,” explained Simon Allport from the accounting group Ernst & Young.
“Intelligent investment by people on the ground who understand where money and time can be best used – particularly in supporting businesses and skills – could make a real difference in driving growth for the North West,” he said.
The chancellor also described the decision to see mayors elected by public vote in Greater Manchester from 2017 as being “the most exciting development in civic leadership for a generation”.