What is This "Northern Powerhouse" Thing They Speak of in Posh Southern Accents?

By Gary Cutlack on at

A survey of people in the north-ish bits of England show that the government's plan to create a Northern Powerhouse is falling on deaf ears, with nearly half of the people asked having literally no idea what it means, what it's for, or if it's a regional car insurance company or the slogan of an egocentric local electrician.

According to the BBC, 44 per cent of the people it asked had never even heard the term "Northern Powerhouse," with a further 22 per cent saying they'd heard the phrase on the news or in the papers but had no idea what the actual aim of the thing is.

What Is The Actual Aim Of The Thing? 

The Northern Powerhouse concept is, at its core, a Tory-led initiative to try to rebalance the distribution of jobs and money-earning within the UK, lessening the reliance on that there London for driving the UK economy.

When first using the term back in 2014, chancellor George Osborne explained it as a governmental initiative to help and encourage several of the biggest northern cities to team up -- via enhanced infrastructure and better relations -- so they may be better represented on the national stage and do better when it comes to attracting inward investment. Getting Google to put an office in Blackpool, that sort of thing.

And it's anywhere that's got a bit of it within a 40-mile commute to Manchester, according to Osborne, who defined the geographical boundary of the Northern Powerhouse when announcing it in Manchester as:

The last census found that the average commute of someone who travels into London from outside is 40 miles. If you make a circle of the same distance, and centre it here on Manchester, you’d have a catchment area that takes in Leeds, Sheffield and Liverpool, Lancashire, Cheshire and Yorkshire, and contains ten million people – more than Tokyo, New York or London. An area containing nearly two million graduates. A huge pool of talent.

Since then, every new road project or refurbished train carriage that's entered service north of Luton has been lumped in with the Northern Powerhouse group, seeing it become a term used when describing the electrification of rail lines in Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire, or grants for low emission buses and academy sponsorship initiatives.

It's no surprise people don't know that much about the Northern Powerhouse, seeing as it's become a weird by-word for any form of funding that's being applied to do anything outside of London. [BBC]

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