Powerhouse minister urges North to ‘come together’

Andrew Percy

The UK government’s Northern Powerhouse Minister Andrew Percy called on the North of England to come together to tackle the “massive” challenges facing the region.

Percy made his rallying call at a conference on the Northern Powerhouse in Manchester.

He pointed to the North’s need to increase productivity, boost skills levels and retain graduates in the region.

Percy highlighted the creation of a new Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund which was launched in Manchester and gives SMEs in the region access to £400 million.

The minister told delegates: “There are massive challenges when it comes to productivity, skills levels; graduate retention is still a big issue.

“The government is determined to address that …

“There is a lot more to do and I look forward to that challenge. More importantly I look forward to us working together.”

He said the Northern Powerhouse message was finding an audience and gaining traction globally.

“We will continue the quite aggressive work overseas to attract inward investment, which is essential for creating jobs,” he said.

Percy spoke of “significant” devolution deals for Manchester, Liverpool and the Tees Valley and said he wanted to see more of them in other parts of the region, including the North East as they “took powers away from Westminster.”