Manchester and Liverpool must boost productivity if the Government's Northern Powerhouse is to succeed - according to a new report.
The findings from think tank Centre for Cities warns they're underperforming compared to their European counterparts. The report, ‘Building the Northern Powerhouse: lessons from the Rhine-Ruhr and Randstad’ compares Northern cities to the Rhine-Ruhr and Randstad regions of Germany and Holland, which the Government has cited as models.
It shows that the success of the Rhine-Ruhr and Randstad regions is not the result of extensive connections between cities in these areas, as is often assumed – and that inter-city commuting links in the Rhine-Ruhr and Randstad areas are actually little better than in the North of England.
There are calls for the skills gaps to be closed.
The Government’s initiative has the potential to have a huge impact in addressing the North/South divide, but only if it maintains its original focus of boosting productivity in major Northern cities such as Liverpool and Manchester. These big urban areas have the most potential for growth in the region, but are currently underperforming, especially in comparison to cities in more successful areas such as the Rhine-Ruhr and Randstad areas.
“Instead of spreading limited monies and political focus equally across the whole region, national and local policy-makers should concentrate most resources on addressing the economic challenges that big Northern cities face, as these have greatest potential to deliver benefits for the North as a whole.”
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Manchester Airport has announced a £1bn plan to transform the site over the next 10 years.
Hundreds of jobs will be created and it's expected passenger numbers will rise by almost ten million by 2025.
Those backing the plan say it'll be an important part of the vision for the so-called Northern Powerhouse.
But environmental groups say the money would be better spent on greener forms of transport.
Our correspondent Ashley Derricott looks at what it'll mean for passengers and job-seekers:
The Labour Party today chose Manchester to launch it's manifesto ahead of the closest General Election in modern times.
Our political reporter Daniel Hewitt was there in the old Granada Studios and caught up with Lucy Powell, parliamentary candidate for Manchester Central, and vice-chair of the Labour Party's election campaign.
Tatton MP and Chancellor George Osborne say he has a grand plan for the North of England - he calls it 'The Northern Powerhouse' - but do voters here plan to keep him in his powerhouse in Westminster come May?
The Conservative Party hopes Mr Obsorne's commitment to invest more in rail, road, arts and science in the North West will be rewarded with more North West MPs at next year's General Election.
But are voters in the key marginals convinced?
Our political reporter Daniel Hewitt has been to Bolton West, the region's most marginal constituency, to gage opinion.
Tune in to Party People tonight on ITV at 23:40 for reaction from MP's Nigel Evans, Julie Hilling and Andrew Stunnel.