Northern leaders launch Manifesto for the North
The Manifesto for the North has been launched with the aim of pressing all political parties into action ahead of the General Election and ensuring that the new Government, whatever colour it might be, delivers more for the region.
The Convention of the North, held in September, brought together Labour and Conservative council leaders and mayors, youth parliaments, businesses, universities and voluntary sector organisations. The Convention aimed to create a unified voice for the North, setting out where the region wants to go and what it needs central Government to do to help it get there.
The Manifesto identifies 5 key requests of central Government:
- Local control of education and training. The manifesto calls for local areas to have the freedom to match education and skills provision with the needs and opportunities of the place.
- Rebalance the economy, delivering transformational investment in the North and driving innovation.
- Give the North its own transport budget, devolving control of transportation. Deliver HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, and allow the North to have London-style transport management with revenue subsidy.
- Allow the North the freedom to lead on trade activities for the region, growing exports and inward investment and building the Northern brand around the world.
- Back the North to lead the green industrial revolution, delivering clean growth.
Additionally, the Manifesto tackles housing, calling for a compulsory National Register of Landlords, a revision of the standard method for establishing local housing need and additional support for a Brownfield Delivery Fund.
The lack of any fiscal devolution beyond the regional transport budget is a surprising omission. With the proportion of tax decided locally in England being just a small fraction of the figure in many European countries, there is a strong case for Whitehall and Westminster to put more faith in local government. As former government special advisor Nick King argues in The MJ this week, Central Government could give local authorities much greater tax-raising powers. It is unclear why this is not mentioned in the Manifesto.
Northern leaders will be waiting for the parties to respond, and seeing what commitments are made ahead of polling day.
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