Chancellor makes pledges to Northern Powerhouse in Budget

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by Simon Austin
Newcastle

Chancellor Philip Hammond made a number of pledges for the Northern Powerhouse in his Autumn Budget today.

A total of £35 million was promised for digital connectivity improvements and infrastructure developments on the Trans-Pennine route between Manchester, Leeds and York. And the Chancellor promised a £1.7bn Transforming Cities Fund to back the six areas with elected mayors, including Greater Manchester.

As the Government had announced on Tuesday, an extra £21m will be invested into technology organisation Tech City UK. Hammond said a new tech business is founded in Britain every hour and said he wanted that to be increased to one every half hour.

“As a key region for technical and digital start-up companies, the North West should benefit from the Action Plan being published which will outline how the government intends to make a £20 billion investment in UK scale-up companies and achieve the Chancellor’s wish of a new tech start up being established in the UK every half hour," stated Rebecca Durrant, tax partner in the Manchester office of Crowe Clark Whitehill.

The Chancellor extended the National Productivity Investment Fund for a further year, expanding it to more than £31bn. A further £2.3bn was allocated for investment in research and development and the main R&D tax credit increased to 12%, while £500m of investment will go into a range of technological initiatives ranging from artificial intelligence to 5G and full fibre broadband.

Mark Rathbone, head of corporate at Brabners’ in the north west, said: “The Chancellor’s ‘Transforming Cities Fund’ is positive and adds some meat to the bones of the government’s commitments to ‘future-proof’ northern transport made at the party conference – even if this is a paltry sum compared to planned expenditure in London and the South East.

“I look forward to seeing how the metro mayors work together within the Northern Powerhouse framework to ensure this fund creates a more connected region.”

Lee Dentith, CEO and founder of the Now HealthCare Group, added: “This is a good start and will work towards ensuring the UK stays at the forefront of technological innovation.

“AI is vital in transforming the health of our nation and so R&D investment from PhD student level onwards, will help us and other digital health businesses develop pioneering solutions to tackle health problems.”

Hammond also announced £123m in funding for the South Tees Development Corporation, a new devolution deal on North of the Tyne region, and £337m for the Tyne & Wear Metro.