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Meg Munn MP - Sheffield Heeley's voice in Parliament | Welcome
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North’s economy held back by lack of investment

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The interim report by the Northern Economic Futures Commission is clear that the economy of the three northern regions of England is being held back by a lack of investment combined with the UK being the most centralised state in the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development).

The three northern regions Yorkshire and the Humber, the North East and the North West contain a quarter of our working age population. They host a quarter of all businesses and contribute a quarter of England’s economic output - twice the size of the Scottish economy. If this area was a country in its own right, it would be the eighth largest in Europe. It consequently matters what the level of economic activity is in these regions, both in the national interest as well as the interests of those who live here.

The north of England is only part way through recovery from devastating deindustrialisation, with some core cities like Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle doing reasonably well in developing as recognised centres for business and innovation. But they are still behind similar cities in Europe, and the recession is entrenching long-standing structural problems.

The report contends that UK governments over the last thirty years have undertaken a centralised economy policy favouring the development of London and the South-East to the disadvantage of all other English regions. It is concerned that this centralising policy, if continued, will not help the needed rebalancing of the economy, but that austerity and public spending reductions will mean a further shift of investment and economic capacity from the north to the south.

Meg commented:

“This report shows that our centralised system doesn’t work for the north of England. I recently heard from a large UK company that they had no trouble getting support for developments from the Welsh Assembly which meant they built a factory in Wales. It is time for the regions of England to be given similar powers so we can take control of our economic development.”

The Commission was set up in summer 2011 by the IPPR North think tank to investigate the present economic state of the three northern English regions and develop a strategy for long-term and sustainable economic development. The final report is due to be published in the autumn and will contain policy recommendations and suggestions of what is needed in order to change the emphasis of the existing national economic model.

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