Our priorities

The North’s future success is underpinned by three core elements:

  • Transport & connectivity
  • Education & skills
  • Devolution

Work across each of these priorities is critical to rebalancing the UK economy and levelling up. In order to maximise future opportunities we must build on our existing strengths as well as leading the way in new economic frontiers.

In 2015 the Northern Powerhouse Independent Economic Review (NPIER) identified four prime capabilities, in which we compete globally: advanced manufacturing, energy, health innovation and digital.

These capabilities are, in turn, facilitated by three critical enablers to driving further growth: 

  • Financial and professional services, a sector in which the North already boasts considerable assets.
  • A thriving logistics industry,  underpinning the needs of the business community and consumers across the country.
  • Greater investment in Northern universities, colleges and wider institutions to develop world-leading research and innovation, whilst nurturing the talent and skills of the future northern workforce.

Transport & Connectivity

Every successful economy is built on reliable transport networks in which people and goods can move about quickly and easily. Millions of workers pour into London from every corner of the country each day thanks to such a commuter rail network, underpinning an ecosystem of innovation, enterprise and growth.

The North deserves the same. Decades of underinvestment mean that getting around the North is often slow, unreliable and inefficient. Productivity levels are held back by limited rail infrastructure, a degraded bus network and poor walking and cycle routes. People choose to work within a short distance of where they live – or else they drive long distances on congested roads, rather than opting for public transport.

We need a modern, integrated transport system that forges closer links between Northern towns and cities, connecting us to the rest of the country – and beyond. We need high speed rail across north to south and from east to west in order to create much-needed capacity on an overcrowded rail network. This means building Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2 both sides of the Pennines, transforming connectivity and attracting investment.

Unlocking this investment has the potential to enable the creation of hundreds of thousands of well-paid, skilled jobs across some of the most deprived parts of the country, driving economic regeneration across the Northern Powerhouse now and in decades to come.

Plans unveiled for Northern Powerhouse Rail station in Bradford

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Why we can’t afford to write Bradford out of Northern Powerhouse Rail

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Northern business leaders call for full delivery of HS2

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Education & Skills

Closing the productivity gap and rebalancing the economy cannot happen without addressing the North-South divide in educational standards. The North has the highest numbers of children from long-term disadvantaged backgrounds who face huge socio-economic challenges, meaning the effect of the education disadvantage gap is starkest here.

These children begin falling behind from an early age, greatly limiting their ability to go into more productive, higher paid careers. Our work focuses on progress among these long-term disadvantaged pupils, looking at the challenges faced by children beyond the school gates which have a detrimental effect on academic performance.

This means understanding specific local issues and tackling underlying problems faced by young people in left-behind areas. We need to give children in these communities a reason to be ambitious, creating better future career opportunities for when they leave school.

Change will not happen overnight. Narrowing this divide will require comprehensive, targeted investment at the most disadvantaged pupils, including reforming Pupil Premium to ensure it reaches those that need it most.

A good education lays the foundation for further skills training later in life. We need a highly skilled workforce here in the North, equipped with the tools to build the industries of the future: green energy, advanced manufacturing and innovative health industries. Investing in future generations remains the key to unlocking growth and levelling up.

Long-term disadvantage in secondary schools in England

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Disadvantage to deprived Northern pupils compounded by weeks of lost learning

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Number of disadvantaged pupils soars by 288,000

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Devolution

Since our inception, devolution was and remains the driving force behind the Northern Powerhouse. Decentralising power away from Whitehall would give local leaders – directly answerable to their electorate – real power over local issues including skills, transport and, in the case of Greater Manchester,  health. Our aim is to re-engage voters who have become disillusioned with a London-centric system, to give them a greater say over the communities they live in.

Our Metro Mayors are a hallmark of this change. A few years on from the first devolution deals, we now have Mayors across a number of Northern areas including Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, South Yorkshire and the Tees Valley, with West Yorkshire due to be added to the list in May 2021. Our ambition is to extend devolution across the whole of the North through deals for every city region and travel to work area, as well as to deepen it by securing further control for local leaders.

This will require a radical shift in mind-set. Our ultimate goal is to reach a point where the North no longer has to rely on Whitehall handouts. Once productivity is in line with the UK average, we can restructure how tax is raised in order to align investment decisions with future returns. A future built by the North, for the North.

Mayoral Elections 2021 – What they show us about devolution across the North of England

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Mayoral Elections 2021: Why they matter

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Whitehall must give power to regions or admit levelling up means nothing

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Working with businesses and organisations accross the North