Northern leaders set out collective offer to work with Government to level up the North

Civic and business leaders from across the North are putting forward a collective partnership offer to Government, setting out how the North can lead the Fourth Industrial Revolution and deliver on the levelling up promise.

In a document published today by the Convention of the North and the NP11 group of northern local enterprise partnerships (LEPs), northern leaders set out the five “gamechangers” which, through collaboration across the North and with Government, will grow an inclusive economy that delivers for the North and the country, while also tackling the health inequalities that have been laid bare by COVID-19. Those game changers are:

  • Leading the Green Industrial Revolution
  • Closing the healthy life expectancy gap between the North and South through innovation
  • Closing the education and skills gap
  • Improving connectivity in towns and cities in the North
  • Increasing private and public investment in R&D spending in the North

The five gamechangers represent a combined Northern offer to Government to ensure the North plays its full part in levelling up the UK, leading the transition to a Net Zero economy and developing a competitive Global Britain.

Leaders have invited the Secretary of State for Levelling-Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove, to join them for a working Convention in Liverpool in January 2022, focused on turning the Government’s positive commitment to level up the North into action.

Liverpool City Region Mayor, Steve Rotheram, who will mark the document’s launch with a business roundtable in Liverpool focusing on the opportunities for the North to lead the transition to Net Zero, said:

“True levelling up has to mean tackling long-standing and structural inequalities that exist between North and South in this country on a wide range of issues, from healthcare and job prospects, to transport and infrastructure spending. This is not an issue of party politics but one of fairness and social justice.

“As leaders representing millions of people across the North, we want to work with government to make that a reality. The North has been hit harder than the rest of the country, but I believe that with proper support we also have the potential to bounce back further and faster than the rest of the country too.

“From levelling up to climate change and everything in between, the solutions to many of the fundamental issues facing the country lie in empowering local leaders to work with central government and take the decisions that our areas need to shape our own destinies and build a stronger, fairer, better balanced United Kingdom.”

Cllr Nick Forbes, Leader of Newcastle City Council and Chair of the Convention of the North, said:

“We have a much louder voice and far greater impact when we work together, and that is something that we, through the Convention of the North and NP11, are acutely aware of.

“The Convention of the North is the perfect place for political, business and cultural leaders to come together to show how we can collectively drive our country forwards, building on the vast expertise within our regions to develop skills, modernise communities, promote growth and build a sustainable economy as we transition into a net zero world. It is our opportunity to demonstrate the power and the potential of the North.

“The country as a whole has suffered enormously during the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the North of England, with its rich heritage and ambitions for the future, is poised to play a leading role in the national recovery. But we need to create lasting, purposeful partnerships to achieve this, and key to that is winning the full backing of central Government.”

Sir Roger Marsh OBE DL, Chair of the NP11 and of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said:

“The North has phenomenal assets in areas such as energy, advanced manufacturing, health innovation and digital that can power the UK’s post-COVID recovery and create jobs and opportunity for our people. As a combined region, we also have the scale to help the Government deliver on its ambition for a competitive and confident Global Britain.

“Successful partnership working between the public and private sectors is going to be crucial to delivering the gamechangers we have collectively identified. Businesses drive innovation and create quality jobs, both of which contribute to people’s health, wealth and quality of life. This is why the NP11 is adding its business voice to that of northern civic leaders in making this offer today.”

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said:

“Today is a powerful statement of northerners’ desire to get on with the job of levelling up, working together across the North and with Government. Through a clear focus on our levelling up priorities of health, skills, transport, innovation and leading the transition to net zero, we can deliver an inclusive, productive, sustainable economy that works for all northerners and for the country.

“As an immediate action, we’re calling on Government once again to publish its Integrated Rail Plan and commit to delivering both Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2 in full. We will not be able to achieve levelling up without an affordable, effective and reliable transport system that connects people to jobs, education and essential services.”

Kim McGuinness, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, added:

“All too often, health inequalities go hand in hand with the wider impacts of poverty. That’s seen in so many different aspects, from missed life chances for young people to the greater risk of being a victim of crime for people living in areas of deprivation.

“The way to solve this, to spread opportunity and to reduce crime, is to level up health services and investment in the North.”

Today’s publication of Northern leaders’ collective offer to Government will pave the way for a Convention of the North with NP11 event, due to take place in Liverpool in early 2022.

Following the success of its inaugural event in September 2019, at which Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a series of commitments to the North, the Convention of the North with NP11 will work with Government to focus resources and investment on the North to allow it to level up.

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