IPPR North Budget reaction: Northern Powerhouse, business rates, devolution, schools

17 Mar 2016 10:22 AM

Ed Cox, director of IPPR North, commented on the Northern Powerhouse and HS3 announcements

“We welcome the “green light” that the Chancellor has given to major transport schemes in the North of England but in truth he has only committed to further feasibility studies. The announcements will heighten expectations though that government will ultimately commit the fresh billions required to finally see some spades in the ground.

And transport investment has to be for a real purpose. Beyond a Northern Transport Strategy we must develop a Great North Plan to align transport, energy, housing and other key drivers of economic growth into a coherent strategy for the North – like in most European regions. This is not only critical for creating momentum and bringing people together – but IPPR North research shows this would play a key role in attracting international investment.”

On the devolution revolution, Jack Hunter, researcher at IPPR North, said:

“It is welcome that the Chancellor has reinvigorated the devolution process in England with the announcement of new devolution deals for East Anglia, the West of England and Greater Lincolnshire but we remain concerned about the haphazard way that this process is being managed. The deals announced today are small in size and other areas such as Yorkshire, Hampshire and the North Midlands have yet to secure a devolution deal. But at the same time Greater Manchester gets yet more powers and will continue to power ahead of the rest.

An asymmetrical approach to devolution is the right one to take but a devolution revolution in England will only be successful if it is developed as a coherent programme and implemented as part of a long-term plan - instead it is currently being undermined by a lack of proper process, with too many discussions held behind closed doors and decisions made on the basis of hidden criteria.”

On business rates, Ed Cox said:

“Small businesses will welcome cuts to business rates but if these are to be the basis of future funding to local government then it could have big implications for local public services. There are also profound implications for the full devolution of business rates to Greater London, Greater Manchester and Liverpool city regions.

While this is an important step forward for fiscal devolution in England, without any mechanism for wider redistribution many areas outside London will lose out. Fair fiscal devolution cannot be achieved without a more comprehensive approach.”

On the northern schools strategy, Anna Round, senior research fellow at IPPR North, said:

“The announcement of a northern schools strategy is welcome. Lower rates of educational attainment in the north of England present a real obstacle to the development of a “Northern Powerhouse” as does the early years gap for children before they even reach school. But if we are to learn from the success of the London Challenge, school improvement requires heads, local authority leaders and national government to work together to challenge poor performance and raise outcomes, not further school fragmentation.”


Ash Singleton, a.singleton@ippr.org 07887 422 789

Ed Cox, e.cox@ippr.org, 07961 979 262

Notes to Editors

Recent IPPR reports on the subjects above: State of the North 2015: Four tests for the northern powerhouse. IPPR North’s annual report looks to the long-term future and asks a simple question: How will we know whether the ‘northern powerhouse’ is working? http://www.ippr.org/publications/the-state-of-the-north-2015

Decentralisation decade: A plan for economic prosperity, public service transformation and democratic renewal in England. IPPR North’s landmark report set out a ten-year programme for devolution in England -http://www.ippr.org/publications/decentralisation-decade

Empowering counties: Unlocking county devolution deals. This report considers how the decentralisation process is impacting on England's counties, and how these diverse areas can – by securing locally-specific powers and governance arrangements – boost their economies and improve their services. http://www.ippr.org/publications/empowering-counties-unlocking-county-devolution-deals