The “Northern Powerhouse” initiative – a set of government plans to drive investment and development in Northern cities and increase the role they play in the UK’s economy – has lately been painting a bright future for the North of England. However, with a new Prime Minister in charge and the champion of the initiative, George Osborne (pictured right), departing from his role as Chancellor, many people are asking what is going to become of this initiative.
In particular, this is likely to be a question on the lips of many people who have invested in Northern cities such as Manchester and Liverpool. For a lot of investors, particularly property investors, the promise of growth as a result of the Northern Powerhouse scheme was a key factor in the decision to place their funds into Northern markets. As such, some must now be wondering whether there is a good chance their investments will still perform as previously expected, while others may be asking whether it is still worth considering the North of England as an investment destination.
While Osborne may be out, the government does not seem to have forgotten the initiative, much less abandoned it. On the contrary, Prime Minister Theresa May has appointed a new Northern Powerhouse minister in the form of Andrew Percy, MP for Brigg and Goole, and a spokesperson for the government stated that the initiative would “continue to be a priority” under the country’s new, restructured leadership.
Figures within the region seem confident that the plans will go ahead relatively unhindered following the loss of Osborne. Indeed, speaking the BBC the leader of Sheffield City Council, the Labour Party’s Julie Dore, said that the city was “not going to miss George Osborne’s personal leadership on the Northern Powerhouse.”
Dore went on to state that the essence of the initiative had already been in place for some time, with “council leaders… working on this idea long before [Osborne] came up with the slogan.” North East Institute of Directors chair Graham Robb also described Osborne’s “Powerhouse” as a slogan, albeit one that “had a big impact, especially with businesses buying into it.”
Over the past two years, the North of England has seen a drop in unemployment of 127,000 and a doubling of international investment. According to Irwin Mitchell, however, only Liverpool and Manchester have made it into the country’s top ten fastest-growing cities so far.
The impact of the referendum on the Powehouse initiative and the wisdom of UK property investment in general remain uncertain. Some experts have tentatively suggested, however, that the government’s ambitious plans for the North may put it in a better position to weather any storms, and that property is likely to remain one of the better UK assets to invest in long-term.