New think tank suggests devolved powers and strong transport links will play a major role in the long-term future of the Powerhouse.
- Devolved mayoral powers and strong transport links within cities are pivotal for the success of the Northern Powerhouse, according to a new think tank
- Manchester was the first city to receive devolved powers under the City Deals devolution proposal, and is also the region’s largest economy
- Direct foreign investment in the city is currently at a 10-year high, with Manchester recognised as a city on the brink of a new growth curve
Should Manchester be the model for all other northern cities to follow in order to drive long-term growth of the Northern Powerhouse?
A new think tank believes that significantly investing in transport that will increase connectivity between the north’s big cities may not necessarily be the key to the Powerhouse’s future. The Centre for Cities think tank suggests that comparing the north of England with established economic zones, such as Germany’s Rhine-Ruhr, is unhelpful.
That’s because many of the cities that make up that region, which include Dusseldorf and Cologne, already have a productivity rate higher than the national rate, something which England’s northern cities cannot currently claim. This means that in the Rhine-Ruhr, it is not the increase in transport connections between its cities that necessarily make the region an economic success story.
Instead, the think tank outlines, the focus should be on devolved mayoral powers, better transport connections within cities and driving workforce skill levels for the Northern Powerhouse to truly deliver – and this is what makes Manchester the city with the strongest investment credentials.
The north-west city was the first to be granted greater controls over local issues under the City Deals agreement in 2012. Manchester will have its own elected mayor by 2017, and the city will be able to control government spend in key local areas, such as transport and health services.
Furthermore, with the north having only three cities with in the UK top 20 for workers qualified to degree level, Manchester does have one of Britain’s highest graduate retention rates, with 20,000 graduates remaining in the city each year. Given that direct foreign investment in Manchester is currently at a 10 year high, and the city has one of the country’s fastest job creation rates, workforce skill levels in Manchester are well positioned to expand in the coming years.