The North is livid. It said so in a couple of articles I read this morning about Crossrail 2, a new transport initiative announced for London yesterday. That may be great for the South-east, but limited public finances mean that Government plans to invest in transport infrastructure for the North are now highly likely to be watered down.
Support for a Northern Powerhouse to generate economic prosperity beyond London is starting to weaken. Northerners have a right to be incensed.
Business leaders, mayors and council leaders from five cities across the North will meet next month to press the Government not to renege on its promises. But that is not enough!
When JPIT Yorkshire launched last March, Ed Cox, a member of the URC and head of the Institute for Public Policy Research North, urged ordinary people to raise their voices for a Northern Powerhouse that generates regional prosperity and balances the national economy. We may not understand all the economics of the UK’s unbalanced labour market, but northern people experience its outcomes in jobs that are often insecure and low-paid and offer too few hours to make a proper living. That plays out in our cities, towns and villages where poverty, social inequality, poor housing and crime blight the lives of many.
The gospel story moves many of our congregations to dirty their hands in addressing social need directly in difficult places; but Christians also argue for a fair and just social order which includes the way our regional economy is sustained and developed for the common good.
Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle must be efficiently connected to create a northern economy that is self-supporting as well as significantly contributing to the United Kingdom as a whole. That was the concept behind a Northern Powerhouse. We will feel the benefits of it among our people when, or now if, it happens. We need the Government, of whatever political persuasion, to keep its promises to people in the North.
Please add your voice, and encourage others towards the same, by signing up to IPPR North’s campaign for Crossrail North.