Special report: Rebalancing the UK economy – turning a slogan into action

ACTIONS speak louder than words. Business leaders on both sides of the Pennines say the Northern Powerhouse must turn rhetoric into reality or risk losing its credibility.

Former Chancellor George Osborne, one of the chief architects of the concept, has declared that the Powerhouse “isn’t just a slogan.”

Speaking recently Osborne added: “The big goal here is to try turn around something that blighted our country for 100 years, which is the North/South divide, and it can’t be done overnight.”

However, business leaders on both sides of the Pennines believe it is now time to push the agenda forward and get projects and plans moving.

A new survey also has also highlighted the gap that exists between the Northern Powerhouse concept and businesses believing it can deliver for them.

The poll, carried out by TheBusinessDesk with Eversheds, found that most business leaders quizzed understood and supported the Powerhouse aims.

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But only 38% of those who took part in the survey expect their business to benefit from the Northern Powerhouse agenda as it stands. And 33% didn’t expect to see any benefit, with 29% stating they didn’t know.Everheds Northern Powerhouse report cover

Charlie Cornish is chief executive of Manchester Airports Group (MAG) and is also involved with the new Northern Powerhouse Partnership – a think tank bringing together Northern business leaders and politicians, which is chaired by Osborne. He says simply: “We have to move the agenda.

“Most people would buy into the aims of the Northern Powerhouse. What is important as time goes on is that we are able to translate that high level vision into a set of tangible plans that people can understand.

“That’s the bridge we have to cross. We have to go away from the vision, the rhetoric, into hard deliverables.”

He adds: “If the concept doesn’t translate into better trade, better infrastructure, that brand will be tainted.

“It’s important the North and Westminster actually get the Northern Powerhouse moving forward and get projects off the ground.”