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The Progressive Policy Think Tank

IPPR North Comment on Autumn Budget

Responding to today’s Budget, IPPR North Director Sarah Longlands said:

“It's nearly five years since the first Northern Powerhouse Strategy was written, so it's welcome news that the Government plan to refresh their proposals for the North. Now is the moment to broaden the vision for the region's future, and to put in place a plan that reflects voices of northern leaders – not just elected politicians, but communities, businesses, and civil society; a strategy which has the people as well as the GVA of the north at its heart. 

“The announcement on the Transforming Cities Fund is to be welcomed because it demonstrates an acknowledgement of the importance of connectivity in the Northern Powerhouse. However, the scale of funding available is still too small for what the cities and towns of the North really need.

“Further devolution is urgent so that many parts of the North are able to truly make the most of additional powers and funding. We need the government to reaffirm their commitment to the devolution agenda so that we can help all areas get the help they need to support economic development in the longer term, particularly in the context of Brexit.

“Unfortunately, the Chancellor did little to reassure us about the future of the Shared Prosperity Fund post-Brexit, and this will become increasingly important to regions like the North.”

On £37M to support the development of Northern Powerhouse Rail, Senior Research Fellow Luke Raikes said:

“If the North had received the same transport spending per head as London has for the past ten years, we would have received £63 billion more than we did. Earlier this week London’s Crossrail received a £350 million loan from the government. The government is also currently considering the £31 billion Crossrail 2 project – again in London.

“In that context £37 million is a very small amount, but that’s why it must be used to unlock the billions of investment the North needs to thrive. The time is coming when the government will need to follow through on their promises, and invest the really significant sums of money in the infrastructure of the North.

“For almost five years people in the North have heard about the Northern Powerhouse, the government must now make it a reality”.

On an ‘Eden Project North’, Research Fellow Jack Hunter said:

“Although small in scale, this is a welcome first step towards investment in the natural assets of the North, and in tourism. The North of England is home to some of the country's most impressive natural environments and, with the correct management, can provide the foundations of a vibrant, low-carbon economy that also brings with it considerable public health benefits and support for the tourism economy which is important for the North of England. So it is encouraging to see the government widen the scope of its Northern Powerhouse initiative beyond transport infrastructure to acknowledge the value of the natural environment in the North's economy.

“But if this project is a standalone investment it will be a missed opportunity. Instead, this should be seen as a chance to develop a much more holistic approach to managing natural assets across the North of England. We need a more joined-up and strategic approach to understanding how to maximise the value of the natural environment in the North's economy.”

On the announcement of a Special Economic Area for South Tees, Senior Research Fellow Anna Round said:

“The Tees Valley is a worthy site for the first Mayoral Development Corporation outside London, and it's easy to see how the area will be able to make good use of £14m. Across the North East, investment in transport and our cities will be welcome - so it's great that the Tees Valley will receive £16.5m for transport projects and the region has a chance to share the Transforming Cities fund. 

“But over the long term, the region needs the opportunity to deploy funds more strategically - rather than making a series of bids for different pots.”

On £650m for Social Care in English Local Authorities, Senior Research Fellow Anna Round said:

Local authorities in the north have seen the biggest cuts in social care since the start of austerity, and although the additional funding is welcome, it won't feel like austerity is over for this sector any time yet.

“The new money will help to ease some of the pressure on the health service in the winter but it doesn't solve the long-term issues of an ageing population and an outdated funding model. The promised Green Paper must provide a long-awaited approach that offers social and regional fairness, and a sustainable system of funding (and staffing) social care in the long term.”

On a National Retraining Scheme, Senior Research Fellow Anna Round said:

“It's good to see a commitment to fund the first phase of the National Retraining Scheme to the tune of £100m. This will provide vital opportunities for workers who need to update their skillset, a group who are often forgotten in discussion of education and training. The proposed innovations reflect best practice, with blended learning and strong partnership approaches”.