The £39bn Northern Powerhouse Rail project will be a priority focus in a crucial review of government spending over the next five years, the chancellor has said.
Chancellor Philip Hammond told the House of Commons treasury committee that the next Spending Review – expected in the autumn – would have a “laser focus” on improving regional productivity, with the modern industrial strategy “at the heart” of the plan.
He told the cross party committee of MPs that the review’s priority will be to focus on geographical areas which have high potential for productivity growth and projects, such as Northern Powerhouse Rail, which can enable this.
“The Northern Powerhouse concept and the Northern Powerhouse Rail project is not just a narrative, it is focused on trying to deliver greater agglomeration effects, by in practice creating a single economic geography out of a belt of northern cities to create an overall area of economic activity which can rival centres like London and Greater Manchester,” Hammond told MPs.
“It is initiatives like that, that have a clear economic rationale, where we can point to the economic drivers that we expect to deliver the benefits of the investment.”
Northern Powerhouse Rail will connect Hull, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and Sheffield and is the third project on the list of projected infrastructure spends over the next 20 years in the National Infrastructure Commission’s National Infrastructure Assessment.
The Spending Review is expected to be hugely influenced by the state of the UK’s departure plans from the European Union. It will outline the government’s spending plans for the next five years, looking at the budgets of each government department. The last Spending Review was in 2015.
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