THE Treasury has welcomed an 18-month study setting out how to grow the northern economy.
In a detailed look at the issues holding back the region, the think tank IPPR North has issued a call for the Government to start handing over transport and funding powers in order to get the best out of the North.
Its ‘Northern Prosperity is National Prosperity’ report called for the creation of a Northern Leadership Convention to start giving the region a more powerful voice.
Also on the recommendations was single funding pot for economic growth, forming a Northern Innovation Council, endowed with £1bn from the sale of the 4G spectrum and doubling the number of young people in advanced apprenticeships by 2015. IPPR and others are keen to see the region’s economy helped to play a bigger role.
“The northern economy” the report states, “is twice the size of Scotland and, if it were a nation, it would rank as the eighth-largest in the EU, ahead of Sweden, Denmark and Belgium”.
At a launch event in Leeds yesterday, Treasury minister Danny Alexander indicated the Government was happy to start looking at letting the region have its say over major funding issues.
The minister went on to blame “the dead hand of central control” for holding back local growth. And while not revealing full details of further devolution, Mr Alexander said he was sympathetic to ideas promoted by Lord Heseltine, which would see much more power handed to local decision makers.
“Local areas are best placed to make and more efficient at making, decisions that effect local economic growth,” he said.