You could be forgiven for thinking there already was a ‘Northern Powerhouse’ in action care of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP) which is chaired by former chancellor of the exchequer and Tatton MP George Osborne.
The NPP is an independent body – launched in September 2016 – to represent the voice of business and civic leaders across the North.
Today, however, it’s been announced that Local Enterprise Partnerships in the North of England will form a new body to support the government’s ambitions for the Northern Powerhouse.
Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry announced that the chairs of each of the eleven Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) will sit on a newly formed, government-funded board to be called the ‘NP11’.
The board will act as one voice representing each of their regions as a modern day ‘Council for the North’ to work with and advise the government on issues such as how to increase productivity, overcome regional disparities in economic growth and tackle the historic north-south divide.
While speaking at the first ever Northern Powerhouse Business Summit, Mr Berry said: “As we approach leaving the European Union we need to ensure that every area of the UK continues to economically flourish.
“The Northern Powerhouse will be a vital support to the UK in achieving this and so I am very pleased the eleven LEP Chairs have agreed to form the new NP11 board.”
He continued: “For the first time since 1472, we will bring together the business voices of the Northern Powerhouse in our ‘Council for the North’.
“They have one task: to enrich all the peoples of the North of England – this is the foundation stone of the Northern Powerhouse and, with the skills and expertise of the NP11, we will shift the North’s economy into overdrive.”
He enthused: “Together we will deliver a North of England which is an economic powerhouse and one which can proudly take its place on the world stage both now and as we leave the EU.”
The three day business summit brought together leading figures from across government and industry including business secretary Greg Clark and the governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney.
Both indicated their support for the ambitions of the Northern Powerhouse as they talked about securing a Brexit that supports Northern businesses.
Christine Gaskell, chair of the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership, will take the role of vice-chair of the NP11.
She said: “To translate the Northern Powerhouse concept into increasing impact requires new types of conversations across the region and at the heart of this collaboration are common goals which transcend local interests.
“The NP11 will serve as a strong coherent regional voice with national government about the exciting potential of an innovation-led economy for the North.”
The new board will report on progress to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government on a quarterly basis.