Why the Northern Powerhouse must not lose momentum

Three weeks ago, Manchester hosted the inaugural Northern Powerhouse conference, which allowed Northern leaders and businesses to promote, debate and celebrate what is best across the Northern region of the UK.

As the dust settles, business folk need to ensure they do not lose sight of the opportunities this initiative will provide with the recent promise of a further £300m central government investment into transport and infrastructure in the region including the £60m towards HS3 between Leeds and Manchester announced in the Chancellor’s recent budget statement.

The sense I took from the conference was that yet more needs to be done to address the imbalance of money being poured into the Northern Powerhouse region, with London and the south east of England still seeing the greater share of the funds to support transport and infrastructure investment.

As debated and clearly highlighted, this imbalance needs to be realigned to provide the much-needed connectivity throughout the North including better transport links, broadband connectivity, flood defence work and inward investment through decentralisation of Central Government.

Although we at Tuffin Ferraby Taylor base ourselves out of Manchester, we work throughout the Northern Powerhouse region servicing many clients looking to inwardly invest in the area. We have seen a real uptake in opportunities since the General Election last year, with investors seeking better returns from what our region can offer, considering the overheated state of the London and South East market.

However, the current feeling from talking to our peers, and to other property and construction related professionals, is that the Brexit debate has now fully kicked-in with a sense of slowdown in enquiries as investors start to pull down the shutters until a clear result is known on whether the UK is either in or out.

Taking this at face value, this suggests we might expect limited activity between now and 23 June, when the result will be known on which way the UK goes. That said, those that work within the Northern Powerhouse region should not be quaking in their boots, as regardless of the outcome, the region will still provide great opportunities for investors. Yes, there will be sentiment either way, as the vote looms large, but this should not stop us from trying to increase the momentum that the Northern Powerhouse initiative has already gained.

Therefore, as a business community and region we still need to hammer on the door of Central Government for a fairer slice of the cake; park the fact the Brexit vote is a few months away, and continue to promote the Northern Powerhouse.

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