The north of England was once the economic powerhouse of Britain, and I believe it can be again. Each of the regions and major cities which make up the North retain huge economic strength, as well as a history, culture and quality of life which make them the envy of the world. But in our changing world size really does matter. Megacities of 10 million will become commonplace. Cities and regions will thrive only if they can attract a huge diversity of people into a melting pot of talent – developing ideas, innovating in the production of goods, inventing new services, leading the knowledge economy. Our north of England will be in the premier league of global economies, but only if it looks, feels, operates and believes it is ‘one economy, one north’.
That is why the ‘northern powerhouse’ concept is so important. Today it is a political idea, gradually taking shape through political institutions, and I am delighted that both national and local political leaders are showing that leadership. But many of those I speak to in the business community are unclear what it is all about and sceptical as to what tangible impact it might have. That is why KPMG has teamed up with IPPR North to start to look at the northern powerhouse through the eyes of business; to start to answer the questions, what would business like to see happen and what might it mean for business if the northern powerhouse were to exist?
I think business should be at the heart of the northern powerhouse, working closely with our political leaders to set the agenda and determine the priorities. We need the business communities of the North to come together and speak with one voice, to work together to make the North great again.
Partner, UK Head – Infrastructure, Building and Construction, KPMG