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Powerhouses and engines inquiry launched

11 March 2016

The Business, Innovation and Skills Committee launches inquiry looking at the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine, focussing on whether the Government's devolved arrangements can deliver improved economic growth and if these models could be adopted by other regions.

The Committee's inquiry will focus on the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine and examine if the models for devolved decision-making and co-operation on areas such as skills, science, innovation, and R&D are delivering economic growth and whether they should be adopted in other regions.

Inquiry terms of reference

  • What do initiatives such as the "Northern Powerhouse" and "Midlands Engine" mean in practice for business? What evidence is there that they will bring tangible economic benefits and improve UK productivity?
  • What is the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills’ role in delivering the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine? What responsibilities will/should it devolve?
  • How effectively do umbrella terms such as the Northern Powerhouse unite potentially disparate business communities, local authorities and Government departments? How effectively are business interests represented and engaged in decisions? How do the different devolution deals in the North and relationships between local authorities impact on business?
  • Does Government have effective systems in place to measure the return on investment in the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine? How should Government evaluate the impact of these schemes?
  • What are the implications of the focus on the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine for the South-west and the South-east outside of London? Are there lessons that can be learned that could be applied to these regions?
  • Is there a risk that some areas can lose out as a result of devolution? How can this risk be managed?
  • How does the level of Government investment in the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine compare to London and the South-East? Is it sufficient to enable a stronger economy in the North that can offset the pull of London?

Deadline for submissions

Written evidence should be submitted by Friday 6 May 2016.

Chair's comments

Iain Wright MP, Chair of the Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Committee said:

"Can the Northern Powerhouse and the Midlands Engine deliver business and enterprise growth with economic benefits for their communities? What do these two slogans mean in practice for attracting investment, improving skills, encouraging growth for businesses and creating wealth in the North and the Midlands?

We're determined to explore the nuts and bolts of these initiatives, looking at what is being delivered now and planned for the future; and whether businesses are being effectively engaged in the devolution process.

There's been a lot of talk about the billions of economic growth that these models could yield. How realistic is this? Does the rhetoric match the reality on the ground for businesses?

We want to bring a close eye to the Northern Powerhouse and the Midlands Engine to ensure that these potentially transformative policies deliver concrete benefits for business and see whether lessons from these two areas could be used in other regions".

Further information

Image: PA

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