Sam Clayden 01 June 2016

Northern Powerhouse must focus on productivity argues think tank

The Northern Powerhouse will only succeed if more resources are spent on underperforming cities in the region, according to a new report.

A new paper from think tank Centre for Cities compared the North with the Rhine-Ruhr and Randstad regions in Germany and Holland – which the Government has cited as models for the Northern Powerhouse.

It found success was not the result of extensive transport links between cities. Instead the ‘economic vibrancy’ of the European regions was driven by the strong performance of individual cities, which were 40% more productive than their counterparts in the Northern Powerhouse.

Centre for Cities’ chief executive, Alexandra Jones, said: ‘We can’t build a successful Northern Powerhouse without stronger, more productive cities.

‘These big urban areas, such as Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle, have the most potential for growth in the region but are currently underperforming, especially in comparison to cities in more successful areas such as the Rhine-Ruhr and Randstad areas.

‘Instead of spreading limited monies and political focus equally across the whole region, national and local policy-makers should concentrate most resources on addressing the economic challenges that big northern cities and their city regions face, as these have the greatest potential to deliver benefits for the North as a whole.’

The report said it was vital leaders in the north focused on finalising devolution deals because the economies the region was comprised of operated over city region scales, meaning governance at this level was best.

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