Northern cities ‘closing growth gap’

THE cities of the Northern Powerhouse are closing the gap on the rest of the UK – but they still have a long way to go to return to the pre-recession position.

Analysis of the progress of 39 UK cities, including Manchester and Liverpool, based on the public priorities for what has been described as “good growth”, which includes employment, health and skills, has been brought together in the fourth annual Good Growth for Cities index.

The data compiled by PwC and think tank Demos  shows a slight narrowing of the gap for the first time, with the Northern Powerhouse area benefitting from falling unemployment rates as well as above average ratings for housing affordability and transport.

Jonathan House, PwC’s local government leader in the North, said: “These results highlight that despite the damage caused by the recession, there have been some clear, positive signs of recovery in the Northern Powerhouse since around 2012, which additional policy initiatives and investment should look to build upon.”

This is the first year the performance of the Northern Powerhouse cities has been assessed, after Chancellor George Osborne launched the concept in the summer of 2014.

Iwan Griffiths, PwC’s North West leader added: “Economic growth and jobs ultimately depend on the success of the private sector, but government has a critical role at both central and local level.

“By investing in the assets and enablers that businesses require to succeed and grow over the long-term, including skills, infrastructure and innovation, it will help to unlock the potential of our cities.”