The Northern Powerhouse, a flagship plan unveiled by chancellor George Osborne in June 2014, started off with much gusto and lost power when a rail electrification project was delayed by four years. But while the government is once more eyeing the North’s potential, 44 per cent of Brits have never heard of the policy.
This is according to a BBC survey of 1,003 Brits, which also found that 20 per cent had heard of it but know nothing about it. Only six per cent had heard of the infrastructure boom and Osborne’s shift of powers to local leaders in Manchester.
Under-35s were most likely to have heard nothing about the project, while those aged 45 to 64 knew the most.
Jeremy Corbyn has even called Osborne’s Northern Powerhouse a sham and unveiled his own version of the project in August.
He said: “What the Conservative government has embarked upon is a cruel deception.”
Corbyn was due to expand on his opinion in a speech to regional Labour members, which was cancelled at the last minute due to the attacks in Paris.
He would have said: “We want to see the re-industrialisation of Britain for the digital age, driven by a national investment bank as a motor of economic modernisation for the 21st century. Not the phoney Northern powerhouse of George Osborne’s soundbites and platform speeches, but a real economic renaissance of the north.”
The BBC survey’s findings were, however, welcomed by communities secretary Greg Clark. He said: “The fact that most people have heard of it is good news. We now need to work together to show what a difference having decisions made locally can make.
“I was struck by the survey where it said 82 per cent of people in the North think decisions should be made by people in the North rather than in London and Westminster. That’s exactly what I think and that’s what this project is all about.”
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