A unified strategy across the North together with further investment is key to the success of the Northern Powerhouse, according to a partner at law firm Aaron & Partners.
Adam Haines is an employment law partner at the firm, which has offices in Chester, Manchester and Shrewsbury.
He highlighted the progress made in recent years but said more investment was still required to boost the North.
“Having grown up in East Yorkshire, and now working and bringing up my family in Greater Manchester, the purpose, principals, and objective of the Northern Powerhouse is something I feel very passionate about,” he said. “In recent years, it has been hugely encouraging to see Greater Manchester successfully attract numerous high-profile businesses from the South East and abroad.
Before Covid-19 the city’s business environment was thriving and there were clear signs of change in the economy. For example, numerous high-profile businesses choosing to ‘Northshore’ due to affordability, redevelopment, and the specialist talent the city has been investing in and nurturing. Nevertheless, there is still a long way to go and a continued impetus is critical to its success.
“In certain areas such as finance, skills, and innovation there has certainly been initial success. However, the North is still woefully behind the South East and therefore continued investment in the North along with improvements in the infrastructure and transport will be critical in whether it’s ultimately successful.”
Haines said collaboration between the various areas of the North was key to its success.
“The main issue is that a unified strategy and approach across the North is adopted rather than the regions working in isolation or competition, he said”. “To strengthen our economy in the North and ultimately move the focus away from the South East, it is necessary for the regions to work together to share skills, resources, and knowledge to facilitate mutual growth. As such, continued development and investment is critical post-Brexit and will require a collaborative approach.
“To maximise each opportunity and investment, the next stage should be for the towns and cities to work far more closely. For example, the 2021 budget announced that there will be a £75m port infrastructure investment in the Humber region. Ultimately questions need to be asked about what expertise, knowledge, and skills are available in the North, and how can this investment be used to stimulate growth not just in East Yorkshire but across the whole of the North.”
Haines highlighted the role metro mayors can play in the Northern Powerhouse initiative.
“In relation to Greater Manchester, I certainly believe the appointment of Andy Burnham has given the city a regional figurehead to be accountable, champion change, lobby the government and hold regional businesses to account,” he said. “As such, in my opinion, it has certainly helped ‘grease the wheels’ to facilitate this change and led to some great initiatives such as the Good Employment Charter.”
Haines said the success of the initiative had the potential to bring a number of benefits to the firm.
“As a commercial law firm, we work hand in hand with Northern businesses on a day-to-day basis and ultimately benefit from assisting with their growth and expansion,” he said. “Therefore, the firm has a vested interest in facilitating our clients to grow and develop, and with that in mind continue to develop our commercial offering. Most recently appointing a business immigration partner in our Manchester office.
“We have a strong focus and presence in the North West with offices in Manchester and Chester as well as an office in Shrewsbury. I act for national and international clients, but the firm frequently advises businesses in the Greater Manchester, Cheshire and Warrington, Liverpool, North Wales and Lancashire regions. I also frequently advise businesses on strategies around growth, expansion, and development. So, the success of the Northern Powerhouse agenda is crucial to the firm’s ambitious growth strategy and continued development.”