Lord Kerslake calls for new Northern Economic Forum to tackle north/south divide in speech to business leaders
LORD Kerslake has called for a new Northern Economic Forum to take the big decisions on transport, skills and economic development in a speech to business leaders at the Hull & Humber Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Dinner.
The former Head of the Civil Service says power needs to be moved decisively away from Westminster in something “much bigger than just city deals”.
He said such a move should be in addition to giving more powers to local government as part of a wider Devolution of powers to the North of England to enable it to shape its own economic future.
Condemning the “massive economic imbalance” between the North and the South of the country, Lord Kerslake told Humber business leaders that more focus needs to be put on the deep structural issues in the UK economy.
“Stagnant wages, low investment, low productivity, a growing trade imbalance and the yawning economic gap between the North and South,” all need to be addressed, he said.
He also highlighted that London and the South East, which together account for 40% of the UK’s GDP, are the only two regions to have recovered from the financial crash of 10 years ago and are also the only two regions to match the best performing areas in Northern Europe.
Lord Kerslake said he believes the country is simply missing out on what the North of England has to offer and needs a “fundamental change in how Britain is governed”.
Other VIP Guests at the Chamber's 181st Annual Dinner included the Chief Executives of North East Lincolnshire Council and Hull City Council, Rob Walsh and Matt Jukes, a former Chamber President, along with Hull MPs Diana Johnson and Emma Hardy.
Lord Kerslake (centre) with the Chief Executive of Hull City Council and former Chamber President Matt Jukes (left) and the Chief Executive of North East Lincolnshire Council Rob Walsh.