25 SEP 2019


A period of ‘transformative investment’ in the north could finally give the Northern Powerhouse the opportunity to fulfil its purpose, according to a new academic report.

The report, by academics from Alliance Manchester Business School (AMBS), highlights that a core weakness in the north is the lack of investment in transformative infrastructure, which has the potential to improve the region’s economic growth.

It says the region’s leaders should leverage the growing cross-party consensus around the importance of investing in transformative infrastructure, particularly with a general election expected in the near future.

The treasury’s methodology for allocating investment, which ‘follows’ economic growth rather than seeking to stimulate it, also disadvantages the north, the authors believe, arguing that current methodology means that faster-growing and more wealthy regions will always be favoured. The experts argue that regional disparities will be reinforced unless appropriate strategic decisions are made.

Graham Winch, lead author of the report and professor of project management at AMBS, said: “We lack the tools we need to drive transformative change here in the north and the national decision-making process for allocating resources in this area isn’t yet fit for purpose. We know that transformative infrastructure projects enable higher growth, and that the higher the rate of growth, the shorter the pay-back period for any given investment. With the tools at our disposal to stimulate growth, we’d be able to quell ongoing economic disparities.

“There is now considerable cross-party support for infrastructure development in the north, and so we need to grasp this opportunity to take the economic growth of the region to a new level through investment in transformative infrastructure.”

Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said: “The case for reform of the current way in which schemes are evaluated by government is compelling, because many of the benefits which will be delivered by schemes such Northern Powerhouse Rail, HS2 and the wider projects they unlock to rebalance the economy are not fully realised at assessment stages. For the Northern Powerhouse to be successful, there is a clear case to revise the methodology used by the government currently.”

Click here to download the full reports, authored by professor Graham Winch and Dr. Rehema Msulwa at Alliance Manchester Business School.


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