‘Northern Big Bang’ sets out vision for job creation
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A report by an influential Conservative thinktank has called for a “Northern Big Bang” to create high-quality jobs in high-productivity industries.
Former Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry, who heads up the recently-formed Northern Research Group of Conservative MPs, has co-authored the Centre for Policy Studies report.
Berry said: “The measures we have put forward will help the Prime Minister and this Government to ‘level up’ the economy and help make the North build back better as one of the most investable places in modern times.”
The report calls for a new Initial Investment Incentive – a cash payment to attract new investments and global capital to the region. This could be focused explicitly on green growth and meeting Net Zero, for example by incentivising investment into new gigafactories which would help spur a Green Industrial Revolution.
Other recommendations include leveraging UK Infrastructure Bank investments to unlock private sector investment where possible, creating a new Northern Infrastructure Bond aimed at attracting global investors, and introducing full expensing for businesses nationwide, or at least allowing all capital expenditure by Northern businesses to be written-off for two years.
The paper also calls for automatic approval for planning applications which create more than 100 permanent new jobs in the region when they have not been determined within two months, and an optional, alternative, fast-track planning process for investors planning to plough £20m into the local economy, or whose investment will unlock over 250 jobs.
Jake Berry MP highlights the opportunities which exist for the North to lead the UK’s economic recovery from Covid-19
To ensure local decision-making remains at the heart of this regeneration project, Berry and co-author Nick King are advocating for the creation of a new Growth Board for the North, to help steer investment, and a Northern Recovery Bond, to encourage local investment in local economic growth.
Berry added: “At the last election millions of Northern voters broke with tradition by voting for the Conservative Party, in many cases for the first time. The Prime Minister needs to recognise that they did so not only to deliver Brexit, but to voice the systemic disadvantages felt in many communities that were tired of being neglected in favour of London and the South East.”
The report was welcomed by Andrew Herring, infrastructure partner at international law firm Squire Patton Boggs.
He said, “The Northern productivity gap has been tolerated by successive governments for too long. ‘A Northern Big Bang’ sets out a dynamic, long-term agenda of reforms which can finally deliver for the North.
“Hard wiring a ‘private sector unlock’ into the goals of the UK Infrastructure Bank, supported by a Northern Infrastructure Bond, reform of pension scheme rules to support investment into Northern infrastructure, and reform of capital allowances to support long term capital formation in the North would finally put global best practice at the service of the Northern economy.”