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The Progressive Policy Think Tank

Northern prosperity is national prosperity: four ideas for the next government

The North of England’s economy isn’t a problem to be solved – it’s a £300 billion a year UK asset, with the potential to spread prosperity more widely as we leave the EU, writes IPPR North director Ed Cox.

Over the last two years, our reports set out bold, imaginative ideas on the northern economy – all of which challenge lazy thinking about the North's economy, right across the political spectrum.


Today we’re publishing the best of our thinking in a four-point plan for the next government to really unlock the North’s potential.


We'll be campaigning on these issues in the coming weeks – please do contact me if you'd like to discuss further.


IPPR North calls on the next government to:


1. Make a success of Brexit in the North, by…

  • supporting an all-party Northern Brexit Committee to map out the North's Brexit plan and a trading strategy [more]
  • boosting our rural communities as we leave the Common Agricultural Policy through new rural devolution deals to protect our land, support our farmers and prioritise our agri-tech, food and science sectors [more]
  • handing regions new powers over migration as free movement comes to an end, allowing communities and businesses to decide priority migration sectors. [more]

2. Boost northern productivity in the national interest, by…

  • slashing Treasury red tape preventing Transport for the North using TfL style powers to attract private investment for infrastructure, including an east-west HS3 at the heart of a northern industrial strategy [more]
  • spending a fifth of R&D in the North, as the private sector does, and investing in super-fast broadband roll-out and digital skills [more]
  • empowering the North to lead a clean energy revolution, helping to meet decarbonisation targets and making the North a world leader in green energy. [more]

3. Build a North that works for everyone, by…

  • unlocking up to £9,000 per benefit claimant through local employment schemes, so the benefits of someone being in work can be invested upfront in proven ways of getting people into lasting jobs [more]
  • strengthening England's leaders to deliver place-based public services, building a million new homes, on the green belt where necessary, and solving the social care crisis through smart local NHS integration [more]
  • giving everyone a great start in life by reforming the schools funding formula to create a powerhouse premium to attract great teachers to challenging areas, and investing in early years education. [more]

4. Let the North take back control, by…

  • meeting the public finance challenge by pooling departmental funding streams; incentivising local areas to innovate and do more with less; and offering England's mayoral combined authorities the same fiscal levers as Scotland and Wales [more]
  • establishing a Council of the North to give direction to the northern economy, held to account by ordinary people twice a year, through a Northern Citizens Assembly decided by lot [more]
  • supporting a Taking Back Control Commission to explore the balance of power in the UK and the North of England in particular. [more]

For more information, please contact Ed Cox on e.cox@ippr.org or Ash Singleton on a.singleton@ippr.org.