Barclays launches £500m Northern Powerhouse fund

Jim O’Neill

Barclays has launched a new £500 million growth fund for small and medium-sized businesses in the North of England as part of the bank’s commitment to support the UK Government’s Northern Powerhouse initiative.

The new fund aims to inject investment into businesses across the region with favourable terms for manufacturing, transport and logistics companies, helping them to grow and create new jobs.

Barclays Group CEO Jes Staley said: “Barclays has been helping businesses across the North to succeed since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, when we financed the world’s first steam locomotive passenger railway between Stockton and Darlington.

“Today, we face new economic challenges and opportunities posed by the digital revolution, the growth in competition from emerging markets, and of course, Brexit.

“The Northern Powerhouse is an initiative which, if delivered, would help the whole country to meet that challenge and take those economic opportunities.

“That is why I’m delighted to announce our £500 million Northern Powerhouse Growth Fund, enabling businesses across the North to invest in jobs and growth.

“As the UK prepares for Brexit, it’s vitally important that businesses, civic leaders and Government work together to make the Northern Powerhouse a reality.

“That means supporting entrepreneurs and businesses to succeed, but it also means providing more ways into high quality work.”

The new fund was announced by Staley as he visited Thornton Brothers Limited, in Ashington, Northumberland.

The business was founded by brothers George and Keith Thornton in 1979, who started out with £25,000 of lending from their local Barclays branch.

They have since built up the business, which now employs 70 engineers who modernise fleets of buses for major transport providers across the UK, including Transport for London, Go-Ahead and First Group Ltd.

Northern Powerhouse Partnership vice-chair Jim O’Neill said: “I have consistently said that for the Northern Powerhouse to be a success and deliver a more balanced economy for the whole of the UK requires the support and vision of the North’s leading businesses.

“This major fund from Barclays will significantly increase the potential of our SMEs across the Northern Powerhouse to embrace the next Industrial Revolution, incorporating innovation such as robotics and AI into everything they do.

“There is real momentum growing in the Northern Powerhouse, and I hope the commitment Barclays and their CEO Jes Staley have demonstrated today will be matched by our political leaders in Whitehall so the Northern Powerhouse can truly fulfil its potential.”