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Nine Northern Chambers lead Northern Powerhouse talks

Published 17th Sep 2015 by Rebecca Walker

Nine Chambers of Commerce, including the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, which in total represent over 16,000 businesses employing over 1.4m workers across the North of England, have produced a joint assessment of the considerable opportunities the Northern Powerhouse can provide the UK economy.

The assessment comes as part of the joint submission by the Chambers to the Treasury’s Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), which will be announced in November.

Commenting on the submission, Steven Leigh, Head of Policy at the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce says:

“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 to now begin a meaningful conversation.

“The UK economy is presently in a much weaker position than it could be, and the capacity clearly exists within the Northern Region to significantly increase UK GDP. Unlocking this opportunity ought to be a national economic priority, and accordingly, we have suggested to the Chancellor some of the priorities which we consider will enhance the Northern Powerhouse initiative.

“This is such a major issue that we must work with organisations across the North of England to ensure that business’ views are heard and made part of the future decision-making process. The nine Northern Accredited Chambers of Commerce have therefore come together in order to send a clear message to Government that businesses have issues with a range of current policy decisions - and their likely effects on the North of England.

“By coming together in this way the Chambers’ are demonstrating their clear intent in playing a part in implementing change and solutions, and in making sure that our members play their full part in this vital work. “We want the Northern Powerhouse to become a reality - and we are committed to playing our part in making it happen. We are willing to work with Government in order to develop these recommendations in greater detail in the weeks ahead.”

Some of the key recommendations in the paper submitted to the Treasury:

  • On transport infrastructure investment the paper calls for a changing of the criteria for how infrastructure spending is allocated - because it currently greatly favours London and the South East.
  • On energy generation an equalisation of charges for connection to the National Grid would remove disincentives to energy generation in areas of the North. The paper acknowledges that despite there being some logic for lower connection charges in the South that “this approach is failing at present” given that “the National Grid has estimated that there may be as little as 1% spare generating capacity at peak times this winter, leaving UK industry vulnerable.”
  • On skills funding: the submission calls for placing less of a “heavy emphasis on very young people (16-18) when in many parts of the North with an older demography” arguing that it is “essential to ensure slightly older workers can be re-trained if we are to meet our future skills needs.”
  • On immigration: the paper argues that “restrictions on international students remaining in the UK to work are detrimental to areas of the North where there is less population pressure and a greater need for higher levels of enterprise”.

The Chambers involved are: Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber of Commerce, Doncaster Chamber of Commerce, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, Hull & Humber Chamber of Commerce, Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, North East Chamber of Commerce, Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce.


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