In his Manchester Speech of 27 July, the Prime Minister made clear this Government’s commitment to the Northern Powerhouse as part of its ambitions to level-up the country, unlocking untapped productivity and economic potential in all places, including County Durham.
This commitment builds on a track record of investment in economic growth in the North East. Of the £3.4 billion Government has invested in Growth Deals across the Northern Powerhouse, the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has received £379.6m across the three rounds of the Local Growth Fund. This investment in innovation, business support, skills, economic assets and infrastructure and transport and connectivity, will help people gain access to new jobs and opportunities and provide businesses with the environment needed to grow and become more productive. In County Durham, £17m of Local Growth Funding has been invested at the National Formulation Centre and National Photonics Centre. These leading innovation centres will boost productivity but also provide facilities and expertise to help companies of all sizes develop new technologies and turn them into commercially viable products that will grow the local economy.
The Northern Powerhouse’s emphasis on transport connectivity as a driver of productivity will also be of direct benefit to Durham, for example the £780 million upgrade to the East Coast Mainline.
Local economies are a crucial part of this: Bishop Auckland is also one of 50 places across the Country that has progressed to the second phase of the £675 million Future High Streets Fund, which will help local leaders to reinvent their town centres. Those successful towns will now receive up to £150,000 of new funding to work up detailed project proposals, based on their initial plans.