While the biggest headline from the Autumn statement was news of Tax Credit cuts being abandoned some of the rhetoric conveyed by the Chancellor was a handful of measures and commitments which sit under the Northern Powerhouse umbrella. This included support for the following:
- Providing £150 million of funding to support the delivery of smart and integrated ticketing across local transport and rail services in the North. This will support Transport for the North’s (TfN) plans for a ticketing system that makes it simple and easy for people to travel across the North by bus, tram, metro and rail.
- Extending the Summer Budget 2015 commitment to fund the operation of TfN, with a total of £50 million now committed over this Parliament. This will further accelerate the pace of progress, as TfN develops plans to transform the North’s transport connections and help forge a single regional economy.
- Providing £7 million of funding through the Regional Air Connectivity Fund to support new air routes promoting domestic and international connectivity. These will include new routes from Newcastle to Norwich, from Carlisle to Belfast, Dublin and Southend and from Leeds Bradford to Newquay.
Culture and creative arts
- Provide £5 million to expand the Great Exhibition of the North, which will celebrate the great art, design and culture of the North. The government will invest in a new £15 million Great Exhibition Legacy Fund to pave the way for future cultural investment in the Northern Powerhouse.
- Provide £5 million to support Manchester Museum to create a new South Asia Gallery, in partnership with the British Museum.
- Build on the enormous success of the Rugby Union World Cup, and boost sport across England, by supporting the ambition to host the 2021 Rugby League World Cup in the Northern Powerhouse.
- Providing £250 million for small modular reactor development and wider nuclear R&D, creating opportunities for the North’s centres of nuclear excellence in Sheffield City Region, Greater Manchester and Cumbria, as well as the nuclear research base across the UK.
- The government has agreed with the British Business Bank and LEPs in the North West, Yorkshire and the Humber and Tees Valley to create a Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund of over £400 million to invest in smaller businesses, subject to European funding arrangements.
- The government backs the development of shale gas, which strengthens UK energy security, while providing generous benefits for host communities. It is therefore establishing a Shale Wealth Fund from up to 10% of shale tax revenues. This is projected to invest up to £1 billion in the North and other shale producing areas over the next 25 years.
- Doubling the size of the Enterprise Zones programme in the Northern Powerhouse, creating 7 new Zones, meaning that over a third of all new Enterprise Zones announced in this Spending Review will be in the North, while extending a further 2 Enterprise Zones.
- Providing £50 million for 2 new agricultural technology centres, headquartered in York, which will support innovation and skills in the food and farming supply chain, enabling the UK to grow its share of the £250 billion global agri-tech market.
- Providing an initial investment of £4 million to establish an Anti-Microbial Resistance Centre of Excellence in R&D at Alderley Park, subject to a business case.
You may also remember that the Government also provided 38 million pounds worth of funding towards research in to graphene, which was first isolated in Manchester and considered to be world’s thinnest and strongest material, back in 2013. A Graphene Engineering Innovation centre is due to be completed in 2017 at the University of Manchester.
As Greater Manchester takes strides steps towards being a devolved region it seems that the devolution bug is spreading. The Autumn statement announced 26 enterprise zones, including extensions on existing areas, would be created to ultimately give local authorities control of business rates in their respective areas. Earlier this year we reported on how the majority of Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce members expressed a desire for powers to move outside of Whitehall where their matters were concerned.