The Northern Powerhouse and Sheffield Economy – John Mothersole, Chief Executive of Sheffield Council – 11th April 2016.

The policy initiative behind the Northern Powerhouse, put in motion more than ten years ago, is that the North of England is larger than some countries and should be in control of making its own decisions.

Economic facts about Sheffield.

  • Sheffield has a population of 563,000 people
  • The employment rate is 71% of people of working age
  • One third of the workforce is highly skilled
  • The economy of Sheffield is worth £11.25 billion
  • The average wage is £26,000

The size of our economy is small compared to other core cities like Manchester, Leeds and Nottingham.

There are a low number of new business start-ups, possibly because of the history of previous businesses being confined to steel.

However, since the recession:

  • GVA has grown by 9%
  • Number of jobs has grown by 5.5%
  • Job Seeker’s Allowance has fallen by 4.9%
  • Average wages have grown by 8%

These figures are still lower than the National average but are better than Birmingham, Tyneside, Leeds, Liverpool and Nottingham, although not as good as Manchester and Bristol.

The aim of Devolution is a way of getting the tools to do the job of improving the lot of the people of the north of England.

It is not a flash in the pan, but builds on previous deals with the Government.

It is not just about new money but also about trying to make structural changes to the system.

The agreement secures vital powers and resources.

  • £900 million over the next 30 years
  • £30 million a year for 30 years
  • A single pot with no ring fencing
  • A 60/40 capital/revenue split
  • The power to borrow against it

This means we can locally prioritise key economic investments like the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District.  This is a nationally important asset working with universities and major global firms to develop new materials etc.  It is a place where new techniques are being developed for the people who want to use them.

We now have post-19 education under control so we can direct local training to match our economy.

We will regain control over our bus services and have more power to deliver local transport schemes.

We need to upgrade all transport links, particularly between Manchester and Leeds and Sheffield, if we want an integrated work force.  The journey time to Manchester needs to be cut to around 15 – 20 minutes.

Goals of the Northern Powerhouse.

  • Northern Powerhouse (named by George Osborne) is about addressing the underperforming economy and assets of the region.
  • To become an economic conurbation of international significance.
  • To have higher productivity, higher skills, higher incomes.
  • To attract game-changing investment.
  • To have super-connected urban centres, creating a shared labour market.
  • To have more knowledge-based businesses.
  • To have growth-focused transport.

Conclusions of an Independent Review.
An independent review of the Northern Powerhouse concluded that it has four prime economic strengths.

  • Advanced manufacturing – developing new materials and new techniques.
  • Energy – developing new energy products using wind and nuclear.
  • Health innovation – new medical developments and new techniques in monitoring.
  • Digital – new content to broadcast.

These are supported by three enabling capabilities.

  • Financial and professional services
  • Logistics
  • Higher education

John seemed confident that this could lead to a 35% increase in the number of jobs across the North in the future.