100 Million Northern Growth Fund Launched Today
A new £100 million growth fund to help drive forward a groundbreaking vision for the economic renaissance of the North, was launched today by the three Northern Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) and the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott. Moving Forward: The Northern Way is a growth strategy to boost prosperity across the North to close a £29 billion productivity gap with the rest of the country. For the first time, the three Northern RDAs - One NorthEast, Yorkshire Forward and the Northwest Development Agency - have united in a combined effort to help the North reach its full economic potential, to create more jobs, investment and opportunities for the 14 million people living in their three regions. Launching the report in Leeds, The Deputy Prime Minster and the three Northern RDAs today announced a new £100 million Northern Way Growth Fund, which will be used to kick-start the new strategy into practical action. This fund will maximise the impact and effect of more than £7 billion investment already earmarked for the North in the Government's Sustainable Communities Plan. The detailed recommendations in the report will now be considered by Government over the coming months and as part of a wider programme of briefings with regional stakeholders by the three Northern RDAs.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, said: "There is nothing inevitable about regional inequalities and the Northern Way Growth Strategy is breaking new ground, showing the rest of the country the way forward in economic development and showing us how we can narrow the divide between the regions. It's an ambitious plan to build on the regions' many assets and great strengths, fulfil its potential for economic growth, create more jobs, increase prosperity and open up opportunity to all in the region.
"The Northern Way is also ensuring the region is influencing government decisions more than ever before. The Treasury has taken a particularly close interest in its work due to the key role played by the Department's former chief economic adviser Ed Balls who remains on the Steering Group as my personal representative. As a result, this summer's spending review included a number of measures that resulted from earlier work by the Northern Way, with increased regional funding, responsibilities and flexibilities across a number of areas. The Government will respond fully to this report in due course, and will work closely with the Northern Way on the implementation of its proposals."The Northern Way includes recommendations to:
- Develop new city region growth strategies for each of the 8 major conurbations of the North - Greater Manchester, Leeds, Merseyside, Central Lancashire, Sheffield, Hull and the Humber, Tyne & Wear and the Tees Valley.
- Bring 100,000 more people back into work by 2014 through the introduction of six Northern pilot schemes to widen the help available to the long-term unemployed and those on incapacity benefits.
- To create truly sustainable communities by ensuring that low demand housing is replaced at a faster rate, with targets set for affordable housing as a proportion of all schemes for new home building
- To create premier transport links in the North developing proposals to further improve the Manchester-Leeds-Bradford Trans-Pennine Rail Link, an M62 Route Action Plan and formulating a North East Funding and Delivery Plan for the Gateshead Western Bypass, as well as backing the new River Tyne crossing.
Key to the economic rebirth of the North is the success of what The Northern Way process has identified as eight city regions. These are the areas where most people live, where most businesses are located and where most people work. These city regions are Central Lancashire, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, Hull-Humber Ports, Tees Valley and Tyne and Wear. For the past six months, a steering group chaired by Sir Graham Hall, and comprising the RDAs and partner organisations along with Government has been looking in detail at innovative ideas for working at pan-regional level in the North. The three Northern RDAs have agreed to establish a new joint delivery team, under the leadership of Sir Graham Hall, to drive forward the implementation of the plan.