Mark Harper MP for Quatro's Northern Powerhouse Monitoring
As someone who worked in the real world before entering politics, I have always believed that it's not Governments that drive our nation’s economy – it's people. Our individuals, our entrepreneurs and our businesses.
So when the Government, of which I was a part, established the Northern Powerhouse five years ago, I was proud to support it.
The Northern Powerhouse is not just an idea. It is a vision to fundamentally rebalance the UK economy by making the North of England more productive and unleash the potential of all of our people.
A lot of progress has been made since 2014 to deliver on that vision, but as a report by Addleshaw Goddard and the Northern Powerhouse Partnership shows, we need to do more – much more.
Entitled “Backing Northern Powerhouse Rail”, Addleshaw Goddard surveyed 5,000 businesses across the North of England and asked them about the impact that improved rail infrastructure would have on their business.
And the findings couldn’t be clearer. Three in four businesses surveyed believed that a commitment to deliver Northern Powerhouse Rail would allow them to make future investment decisions. 85% said it would increase inward investment. And an incredible 99% of businesses said it would raise productivity in the Northern Powerhouse.
Currently less than 2.2 million people in the North can access four or more of the North’s largest economic centres within an hour. Backing Northern Powerhouse Rail would see this figure rise to 10 million, thereby giving more businesses access to skilled workers and more people the chance to live, work and progress in the North of England.
As my colleague Ben Houchen, the Mayor of Tees Valley, was right to say, the impact on the North West, Yorkshire, the Tees Valley and the rest of the North East could be “game changing”.
As someone who has represented a constituency outside of London since 2005, I get the argument for properly investing in our nation’s towns and cities and the Northern Powerhouse is one of the many initiatives that can allow us to do that.
HS2, a third runway at Heathrow and Crossrail are all other good examples of how we must put our money where are mouth is if we are serious about taking this country forwards.
I hope that, whoever becomes Prime Minister, we listen to the voice of businesses across our country and properly invest in our future.
The Rt Hon. Mark Harper MP, Member of Parliament for the Forest of Dean and a current Conservative Party leadership candidate.
7 June 2019 | Emily MacPherson-Smith
Mark Harper, Northern Powerhouse