Thursday, September 17, 2015

News: Chambers submit Northern Powerhouse policy proposals

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Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber of Commerce is one of nine chambers from across the North of England to put forward potential policy changes to enhance the Government's Northern Powerhouse initiative.

As the Government works on its Autumn Spending Review, the chambers welcome the initiative and outline the importance of the success of the Northern economy to UK plc. It picks out nationally important assets including the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham which is home to a cluster of world leading companies involved in R&D.

However, the submission goes on to discuss how the North's economy has underperformed and that capacity exists within Northern regions to deliver a significant increase to UK GDP.

The document states: "Unlocking this opportunity should be a national economic priority and not left in a "regional policy" niche. It is therefore long overdue for national Government to place specific emphasis on enabling the North to deliver more. The Northern Powerhouse concept is extremely welcome, but can and must be developed further to realise this potential and create the stronger and better balanced growth the UK needs and is capable of."

The main thrust of the Government's Northern Powerhouse idea so far has been to focus on transport and devolution. Whilst welcoming the moves made by the Government, the chambers are asking for policies that:

- moves infrastructure investment away from London and the South East;
- stops disincentivising energy generation in areas of the North;
- boosts social housing development;
- devolves further skills funding;
- enables more international students to stay and work in the UK;
- delivers meaningful improvements through the review of business rates;
- addresses Air Passenger Duty and its impact on Northern airports
- enables further inward investment in the North.

The report adds: "We believe policy is currently geared towards economic circumstances in the South East of England, rather than the North. If Government is fully committed to enabling Northern economies to flourish, this must be addressed, either by ensuring they are part of devolution deals with local decision makers allowed sufficient flexibility and resources to effect meaningful change, or through changing the national approach to be more reflective of conditions across the whole of the country."

Andrew Denniff, Chief Executive of Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber of Commerce said: "The North of England's economy represents a quarter of the whole of the UK. However, for several decades the North's economy has underperformed. In this submission we urge the Chancellor to take the opportunity now, to change the rhetoric and start a meaningful conversation.

"The UK economy is presently in a much weaker position that it could be, and the capacity clearly exists within our regions to deliver a significant increase to UK GDP. Unlocking this opportunity should be a national economic priority and not left in a "regional policy" niche.

"We have produced the priorities we believe will enhance the Northern Powerhouse initiative and it is time to see these priorities met.

"As a group of Chambers of Commerce, we will work closely together to ensure that business across the North lies at the heart of the changes to come. We want the Northern Powerhouse to become a reality and we are committed to playing our part to make it happen. We are willing to work with Government to develop these in greater detail in the weeks ahead."

The submission is on behalf of Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber of Commerce, Doncaster Chamber of Commerce, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, Hull & Humber Chamber of Commerce, Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, North East Chamber of Commerce, Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce.

Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber website

Images: Harworth Estates

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