Northern Powerhouse Independent Economic Review

Client: Sheffield City Council and Transport for the North

An SQW-led consortium was appointed by Transport for the North (TfN) on behalf of wider partners, to undertake an Independent Economic Review (IER) of the Northern Powerhouse (NPh). The purpose of the review was to provide a shared evidence base for partners across the North, to underpin TfN's Northern Transport Strategy, as an input to the Spring Budget, and subsequent proposals for transport investment.

The high profile study comprised five workstreams as follows:

  • Workstream 1 – analysis of the prosperity and productivity gaps in the North, and the potential contribution of different drivers, including (proxies for) transport connectivity, in closing these gaps.
  • Workstream 2 – a focused analysis of the economies of the 11 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas, which together form the North, including an assessment of local productivity performance and causes, sectoral specialisms, capabilities, and assets, and major investments planned/underway to address the causes of the performance gaps and realise sector growth opportunities.
  • Workstream 3 – analysis of distinctive competitive advantage and sectoral strengths, capabilities, and industrial potentials of pan-Northern significance.
  • Workstream 4 – modelling future growth scenarios for the North, including growth consistent with the Northern Powerhouse's aspirations, and the role of agglomeration and transport in influencing the patterns of growth across the North.
  • Workstream 5 – developing suggested proposals for an Independent Panel to act as the guardians of the IER's evidence base going forward.

The IER characterised the North's economic position and the causes underpinning its performance, and identified opportunities where 'pan-Northern' effort can sensibly support existing 'local' activities. The IER concluded that a step change in economic performance - significantly above "business as usual projections" - is possible with substantial improvements in transport connectivity, skills, innovation, and inward investment across the North.

The Northern Powerhouse Independent Economic Review Executive Summary is available to download here.