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Powerhouse of Cards? Understanding the 'Northern Powerhouse'

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  • Neil Lee

Abstract

The 'Northern Powerhouse' is the UK government's latest attempt to reduce regional disparities. By bringing together the cluster of cities in the North of England, the aim is to create an agglomeration with the scale to counterbalance London. To achieve this, policymakers have focused on four areas - transport, devolution, science and innovation, and culture. This paper summarises and critically reviews the Northern Powerhouse. While sympathetic to the basic idea, it argues that the Northern Powerhouse has become an increasingly fuzzy concept. It can be understood both as an economic development strategy, to help guide policymakers, and a political brand, giving focus to disparate and often pre-existing policies. As a strategy, it has meant some new resources and powers for the North and represents a partial return of interventionist approaches to local economic development. But it is geographically fuzzy, with funding insufficient to achieve its vague but ambitious aims. Instead, the Northern Powerhouse has become a political brand - used to brand policy interventions in a scattergun fashion, including some which pre-date the term or would have happened anyway. The result is a fuzzy policy agenda which is increasingly disconnected from the initial theoretical concept.

Suggested Citation

  • Neil Lee, 2016. "Powerhouse of Cards? Understanding the 'Northern Powerhouse'," SERC Policy Papers 014, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:sercpp:014
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    Cited by:

    1. Lee, Neil & Clarke, Stephen, 2019. "Do low-skilled workers gain from high-tech employment growth? High-technology multipliers, employment and wages in Britain," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(9), pages 1-1.
    2. David Beel & Martin Jones & Ian Rees Jones & Warren Escadale, 2017. "Connected growth: Developing a framework to drive inclusive growth across a city-region," Local Economy, London South Bank University, vol. 32(6), pages 565-575, September.
    3. Mark Sandford, 2019. "Money talks: The finances of English Combined Authorities," Local Economy, London South Bank University, vol. 34(2), pages 106-122, March.
    4. Stephen Hincks & Iain Deas & Graham Haughton, 2017. "Real Geographies, Real Economies and Soft Spatial Imaginaries: Creating a ‘More than Manchester’ Region," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(4), pages 642-657, July.
    5. Keith Shaw & Fred Robinson, 2018. "Whatever happened to the North East? Reflections on the end of regionalism in England," Local Economy, London South Bank University, vol. 33(8), pages 842-861, December.
    6. John Harrison & Darren P. Smith & Chloe Kinton, 2017. "Relational regions ‘in the making’: institutionalizing new regional geographies of higher education," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 51(7), pages 1020-1034, July.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    agglomeration; rebalancing; Northern Powerhouse; north-south divide;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • R1 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)
    • R58 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis - - - Regional Development Planning and Policy

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