£556m Northern Powerhouse cash allocation welcomed

By Tom Mullen & Trevor Gibbons
BBC News Online

  • Published
Manchester Town Hall
Image caption,
Manchester is one of the cities at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse

Business leaders and politicians have welcomed a newly-allocated cash injection of £556m for the government's Northern Powerhouse project.

The money will fund flood defences in Yorkshire, a £10m innovation fund for businesses in Manchester and Cheshire, and regeneration in Hull city centre.

It was announced by Prime Minister Theresa May amid plans for a new more interventionist industrial strategy.

Mrs May said there was a need to "drive growth across the whole UK".

She detailed the funding during her first regional cabinet meeting, held at a science and business park in Daresbury, Cheshire.

Image source, David Neve
Image caption,
Some of the money will be set aside to regenerate Hull

The money will help fund projects including:

  • A new £10m innovation fund for small to medium businesses in Greater Manchester and Cheshire
  • Flood defences in Leeds, Bradford, Calderdale, Craven and Kirklees
  • A £72m cash boost for the Liverpool City Region to help create jobs and growth
  • The Goole Intermodal Terminal to link the town's existing rail, sea, motorway and waterway links on one site
  • A modern conference centre and hotel in Blackpool at the town's Winter Gardens
  • Further regeneration of Hull city centre, during the city's year as UK City of Culture
  • An International Advanced Manufacturing Park in South Tyneside and Sunderland, expected to create 5,000 jobs

The £556m has been allocated from the Local Growth Fund cash pot of £1.8bn, announced in the Autumn Statement, and will be handed to 11 Local Enterprise Partnerships across the north.

It is part of a wider scheme aimed at boosting the post-Brexit UK economy and creating jobs, with a particular focus on investment in science, research and innovation.

Mrs May said the plans, contained in a green paper published earlier, were about building a "truly global Britain".

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Prime Minister Theresa May detailed the funding during a visit to a business park in Daresbury, Cheshire

While a significant portion of money has been allocated to the North, she said there was "the need to ensure that our economy works for everyone in every part of the country".

News of the funding earmarked for flood defences has been particularly welcomed, following the widespread deluge that hit parts of Yorkshire and Lancashire in December 2015.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford City's Council executive member for regeneration, said: "We need to examine the detail but I welcome much-needed investment to help protect homes and businesses in our district from future flooding.

"The Boxing Day floods a year ago had a devastating impact on those affected and the region's economy, so it's essential that the government works with us to manage flood risk because this is about people's homes and livelihoods."

Stacey Howard, operations director at the Goole Development Trust, said improved transport links would be "brilliant for the town".

"We are in the M62 corridor and Goole is the biggest inland port in the UK."

How much money will each Local Enterprise Partnership receive?

Image source, Getty Images
  • Greater Manchester: £130.1m
  • Liverpool City Region: £72m
  • Leeds City Region: £67.5m
  • North Eastern: £49.7m
  • Cumbria: £12.7m
  • Tees Valley: £21.8m
  • York, North Yorkshire, East Riding: £23.7m
  • Lancashire: £69.8m
  • Humber: £27.9m
  • Sheffield City Region: £37.8m
  • Cheshire and Warrington: £43.3m

Mike Perls, founder and CEO of Manchester-based strategic marketing agency MC2, said the funding "isn't about about factories and chimneys", but rather "a modern industrial strategy" to help modern, innovative businesses thrive.

"It will encourage regional economies to develop strategies reflecting their strengths, and the businesses within to look globally without hesitation."

However, Rebecca Long-Bailey MP, Labour's Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said £556m "pales into insignificance" when set against recent central government cuts to local councils.

'Too little too late'

"Local authorities lost £18bn of government funding in real terms between 2010 and 15, with the poorest councils bearing the brunt of the cuts.

"From what we have seen of the government's industrial strategy so far, I am not convinced they are committed to the long-term investment needed to transform the northern economy."

Business Secretary Greg Clark said the plans were about "spreading opportunities right across the country".

But his opposite number at Labour, Clive Lewis, said the government's industrial strategy was "too little too late".

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