The Northern Powerhouse Partnership has unveiled an eight-point Levelling Up blueprint - calling for a focus on long-term barriers to productivity which are holding back the regional economy.

NPP director Henri Murison said: “The North East, which has the highest proportion of long term disadvantaged children in the country, faces some of the biggest challenges when it comes to levelling up.

"However, there is potential to transform lives and livelihoods for people in the region through a long-term strategy focused on raising productivity.

“There are huge opportunities to attract more investment to the region and create more well-paid skilled jobs, particularly in new green industries such as carbon capture and storage and the hydrogen economy on Teesside - simultaneously bringing us closer to net zero.

“Unlocking those opportunities will require devolution to County Durham and more powers to Tees Valley, local control over skills funding, as well as investment in innovation focused on leveraging the region’s world-class universities and local translational assets.

“We also need to improve transport connectivity by fully reopening the Leamside Line, while raising education standards through a new smart opportunity area, which the North East has missed out on so far.”

The Partnership, chaired by former Chancellor George Osborne, was set up to drive forward specific projects which will have a measurable impact on outcomes for Northern people and places.

Among the key points the blueprint makes, on Education it says: "We need to reform Pupil Premium to better target funding for long-term disadvantaged young people by allocating more to pupils eligible for free school meals throughout their schooling, addressing the most entrenched barriers to social mobility."

Devolution: "We support plans for devolution in areas including North Yorkshire, Cumbria and the North Bank of the Humber. We would also want to see devolution deals explored in Lancashire, Cheshire and Warrington and the extension of North of Tyne to the south of the river, to also include Gateshead and Sunderland."

Industrial policy: "There is a real opportunity to create the next generation of jobs while taking advantage of the north’s unique expertise and economic assets to lead our transition to net zero. This should focus around Carbon Capture Use and Storage, hydrogen and Small Modular Reactors."

Innovation: "Investment, innovation and collaboration in advanced manufacturing and materials, energy, health innovation and digital would raise productivity and close the persistent north-south divide."

Skills: "There has never been a more pressing time to reset the north’s skills agenda and institute systematic changes to ensure the future prosperity of our businesses, towns, cities, and people."

Health: "This should be improved by addressing entrenched inequalities in least well-off areas to address the overall gap between north and south. Levelling up health outcomes through locally-led integrated health and care services would help close the productivity gap holding the north back."

Transport: "We need a modern, integrated transport system that forges closer links between northern towns and cities, connecting us to the rest of the country – and beyond. Investment in buses and mass transit is also critical - but this should be delivered alongside a new rail line across the Pennines, not as a consolation prize."

Towns and cities: "There needs to be a place-based solution to kick starting the economy of northern towns that goes beyond physical infrastructure. Devolution deals could address underlying population health and education issues which constrain economic growth."

Read more: Full details of the blueprint can be found here


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