North of England gives more than devolved nations

George Osborne announced cities could be given greater freedoms and more powers, with Manchester the first to benefit. Picture: PA
George Osborne announced cities could be given greater freedoms and more powers, with Manchester the first to benefit. Picture: PA
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The North of England contributed 6 per cent more to the national economy than Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland combined, a new report by an independent think tank has suggested.

But the IPPR North report also concluded that in the decade to 2012, the devolved nations were spending “far more” per head on increasing their economies through skills and infrastructure investment, plus research and development, while the North grew at a slower rate.

An analysis of regions in the report found the North contributed 19.2 per cent in gross value-added (GVA) economic growth, with Scotland on 7.7 per cent, Wales on 3.4 per cent and Northern Ireland on 2.1 per cent - a total of 13.2 per cent.

It found that over the last 10 years government spending on economic affairs had been “highly skewed” towards London and Scotland.


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The report, entitled The State of the North: Setting a baseline for the devolution decade, identified that in the decade to 2012 the fastest-growing local economies (Local Enterprise Partnership areas) in the North were Cumbria at 46 per cent (the difference in nominal gross value-added between 2002 and 2012), plus Cheshire and Warrington (43 per cent) followed by Greater Manchester (42 per cent) and Sheffield (41 per cent).

It also suggested that the major city-regions of the North were driving employment growth, with jobs since 2010 in Sheffield increasing by 4 per cent and in Greater Manchester by 3.4 per cent, twice the rate of jobs growth in the North as a whole (1.8 per cent).

The report found that manufacturing made the biggest contribution to the northern economy, but new business growth also came from the property sector, plus financial and professional services, while northern universities had pioneered developments in technologies such as graphene and biomedicine.

It recommended a boost in infrastructure spending in the North, devolution of power to city and county regions, plus strengthened local democracy.

Ed Cox, director of IPPR North, said: “The North’s potential is starting to be recognised. While there have long been calls for a rebalancing of the UK economy, the evidence that more closely connected northern cities will bring significant economic benefits for the whole nation is now clear. Our maxim, ‘northern prosperity is national prosperity’, has become common currency in the corridors of Whitehall and in city and town halls across the North.

“In 10 years’ time, with the right leadership and with a revitalised local democracy, there is no reason why the north of England shouldn’t take its place alongside the most prosperous northern European regions. But if that is to happen more needs to be done to develop good policy ideas which can be taken up by the politicians.”

Last week Chancellor George Osborne announced cities could be given greater freedoms and more powers under plans being set out by the Government, with Manchester the first to benefit.

Ministers hope the reforms, which include an elected “metro mayor” for the whole of the Greater Manchester region, will allow cities in the north to become an economic powerhouse to rival London.

As part of the reforms, the post of police and crime commissioner for Greater Manchester Police - established by the coalition Government - would be scrapped and replaced by the new elected mayor.


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