The Northern Powerhouse must not be left behind in a post-Brexit Britain, warned Brexit campaigner and Northern Powerhouse minister James Wharton at the think tank’s Finding True North conference on Friday.
ResPublica, a think tank, called for a fundamental change in the way society is run and a “resurrection of the North” through its Manifesto for Finding True North.
Download Manifesto for the North
Communities Secretary Greg Clark was also expected at the heavyweight political conference being held at the Lowry arts centre in Salford Quays.
A dedicated council for the North would bring together leaders from the cities and regions to counter London-centric policymaking as well as reducing the layers of bureaucracy at local government level.
The manifesto makes several recommendations around energy, innovation tech, employment and benefits, and housing. If drastic new measures to devolve powers to the North are not implemented, the think tank writes, the Northern Powerhouse dream could fail.
On housing, the manifesto calls for retention of Stamp Duty Land Tax receipts to fund building and create private rented sector funds.
Wharton said: “I welcome the active debate around the future direction and evolution of the Northern Powerhouse. Congratulations to ResPublica for this contribution, it is an important project and has the potential to deliver real long term benefits to our economy.”
Clark added: “This is an important and thought-provoking Manifesto that deserves to be carefully considered. The Government will work closely with partners across the North to devolve more power to people and places in order to realise our ambitious plans to build a Northern Powerhouse.”
Director of ResPublica, Phillip Blond, said: “Post Brexit it is vital we don’t lose the North once more, we must maintain the urgent reinvention of our country and we must demand from those who would be our leaders that they mirror their paeans to social justice with a new deal for the North equal in scale and ambition to what Roosevelt offered America in the 1930s.
“This disparity cannot continue. We need Northern leaders to collaborate beyond city and region, to come together as a Council of the North and demand systemic and transformational change from the Westminster government. The north needs massive at scale investment across multiple sectors at the same time, it needs to recreate its entire economic eco-system and make ‘Whole North’ choices and ‘Whole North’ investments.”
The manifesto describes poor job creation in the North despite high UK employment rates. Almost 2.4 million jobs were created in the UK between 2006 and 2015. Yet across the North of England just 360,000 jobs were created during the period.