Budget 2016 – The Northern Powerhouse

Now we have had a bit of time to digest the Budget 2016 we have a series of blogs that covers some of our thoughts from the day. First we have Sophie, an associate in audit from the Sheffield office.

Northern Powerhouse

What is the Northern Powerhouse? What does it mean for our local region? And exactly how committed are the government to this economic regeneration project?

George Osborne has outlined 3 steps he deems necessary improvements in order to set the Northern Powerhouse ball rolling; logistics, science and innovation – and all to be necessarily overseen by the powerful and collaborative business leaders from the local region. It would seem that perhaps what it ultimately boils down to is the ability of our local businesses and regions to compete and win more opportunities and thus redistribute wealth and jobs away from the nucleus of London. From a local perspective, Tinsley Bridge MD, Mark Webber, is dubious about the release of the Budget. He feels there is an’ uncertainty’ which ‘is not good for business’ – so much so that the highlights it as ‘our biggest barrier to growth’. He, along with many other business people, wants to see long-term investment supported by consistent support and incentives and an all-round clearer legislative framework.

Improved transport

In terms of logistics, the wheels have most definitely been set in motion for changes in the local region. The Budget has pledged £60 million in government support for the high speed HS3 rail link between Manchester and Leeds, cutting journey times from 49 minutes to half an hour. Further, there will be £80 million invested to develop major plans for a trans-Pennine tunnel between Sheffield and Manchester, plus research into improving northern road links.

Devolution deal

Sheffield has also been pressing ahead with ratifying it’s devolution deal – currently awaiting approval from the local authorities of the area – with the aim that the deal will go live in April 2016 and following Mayoral election for the region in May 2017.

As a comparative, the Leeds region has been a far less smooth manoeuvre. There has certainly been more than a few speed bumps in the road for this deal. Two county councils do not support the deal – much to the distaste of private sector business owners wrote directly to the Chancellor in an attempt to gain some support. The deadline also appears to have been and gone, for those who did not reach a deal before the Budget the devolution bus will be set firmly in ‘Park’ until 2020. This is extremely disappointing for the Leeds city region and for the Northern Powerhouse as a whole to miss out on the devolution opportunity as well as the related funding.

Regional success?

So all in all, perhaps some successes to speak of for our region and it’s businesses but whether this level of support will be long term remains to be seen. With the future of the country looking as yet uncertain, it seems likely there’ll be choppy seas ahead.

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