The Northern Powerhouse Education, Employment and Skills Summit 2020 (#NPEESS2020) was a great success. Bringing together a galaxy of Northern leaders. NPEESS2020 delivered an emerging consensus on what the North needs to do to reboot, rebuild, recover and rebalance the Northern economy post-Covid-19.
There was a strong sense of collaboration and a feeling that there needs to be an output and action plan for the North – not least as so many talked about priorities and what the hard-hit North needs to build back better education, employment and skills.
It was clear that if we are to reboot, rebuild and recover and rebalance, it is time for the North to work together and forge a strong coalition for change and to make the case for more devolution; greater powers, investment and support from Government.
We know that the scale of the challenge in the North is huge and that there needs to be a clarion call for action. This must be the right time for a New Deal for the North? This is not about the North pleading for its fair share. Rather, the mood emanating from NPEESS2020 was about collaboration and partnership. We heard that plans for recovery need to be made in the North and delivered for the North. That we need a regional and devolved response in recovery, not a command and control approach from Westminster. NPEESS2020 identified 5 calls for action for the North which must be rooted at local level:
- Education and skills are key to the recovery in the North
The North urgently needs infrastructure commitment and capital. It is mission critical to power-up city region Mayors, local authorities, colleges and universities to get on with the job and deliver
- Reducing the educational attainment gap is critical
The Catch-Up Premium must be scaled-up now if we are to remove inequalities and truly rebalance the economy. In time, it could be transformed into a Northern Challenge fund
- The North must be a global leader in clean growth
The North can lead the way in help the UK meet its 2050 net zero target. It can lead the way on skills and innovation in renewables, digital and R&D which will be key to the Green recovery. This potential must be harnessed and supported by the Government
- The North needs a stimulus package to deliver inclusive and sustainable growth
Local industrial strategies should become local recovery strategies. The importance of ports, universities and place all need to be the beating heart of plans for recovery that is repurposed for resilience, social value and jobs
- Deeper and wider devolution is critical to the recovery
The North is an early adopter and powerful advocate for devolution. The time is “now” for meaningful devolution deals across the North. By the end of this Parliament, and in the short-term greater powers and resources need to be given to existing city region Mayors, including fiscal devolution
DevoConnect and other commentators at NPEESS2020 are coming together to work-up a New Deal for the North pledge based on these 5 points. Once agreed we will launch the New Deal for the North and generate support across the North from political and business leaders and stakeholders for what the North needs from Government to rebalance, recover and accelerate economic growth.
Please contact us if you would like get involved with the pledge, and let’s work together to get a better deal for the North!
For those of you who missed the NPEESS2020, please head over to our YouTube to re-watch some great debates.