What will Brexit mean for the Northern Powerhouse?
The Northern Powerhouse is in place to balance the UK economy again and remove the strong north-south divide that currently exists. With the nation in a period of uncertainty as the negotiations of Brexit have begun, the next few years remain unsure in terms of the UK’s economy as a whole.
The Northern Powerhouse as part of UK Strategy
In light of Brexit, the perspective of the Northern Powerhouse is no longer simply for the development of the north of the UK, but as a strategic part of the UK’s economy and approach as a whole.
The Northern Powerhouse can be a central part of promoting the UK for trade and investment, both locally and nationally, as well as drawing international relationships. At the moment, the north of the UK counts for around one fifth of the UK’s total economy, however as levels of development rise this is set to increase and balance out.
Brexit poses a potential challenge
Despite the predicted success of the Northern Powerhouse, Brexit stands as one of the biggest obstacles to this growth. In the 6 years between 2007 and 2013, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDD) and the European Social Fund (ESF) invested nearly 2.9 billion euros into the three Northern regions of the UK, as part of 9.8 billion euros of investment to the UK as a whole.
This investment went towards training, regeneration of different areas and to support infrastructure. This also created over 70,000 jobs as a result of the investment from the EU, so clearly Brexit and the withdrawal from the availability of such funds could be a concern for the continued development of the UK and particularly the Northern Powerhouse.
Strategy for the North
At the same time as Brexit, The Great North Plan (GNP) is also being put in place to continue to increase growth in the north. This involves the IPPR North and RTPI planning together in partnership with local authorities, businesses and the UK Government to aid continued development and lead change in private sector investment.
Problems for London
London is suffering from a lack of housing at the moment, as well as high traffic levels and pollution – all of which need to change. This is another reason why development in northern cities is important, to take the strain away from the capital. Uncertainty about where workers in the construction market will come from following the Brexit process is causing pressure to recruit new workers into the construction industry instead of relying on foreign workers and investment from the EU.
Development despite Brexit
The process of leaving the EU leaves the UK in an uncertain place at the moment, but the future is unpredictable. What it does highlight is the need for skilled construction workers and increasing training and personal skills across the UK to ensure that the UK has enough resources and skills internally to continue to grow and develop the Northern Powerhouse and beyond.
Attracting investment after Brexit
Following Brexit, there are already likely to be attractive investment opportunities for other countries, such as China which is potentially interested in investing in UK transportation. This means that there is likely to be continued investment despite leaving the EU, and this will facilitate the infrastructure growth needed within the Northern Powerhouse.
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