Today, George Osborne's Northern Powerhouse Partnership published a report detailing what needs to be done "to build a Northern Powerhouse where more people want to live, invest and set up businesses." Andy's responds below:
"This is a powerful call from so many prominent people across the North and it requires a serious response from the Government.
"George Osborne is right to press his colleagues for a more whole-hearted commitment to the Northern Powerhouse concept. It should be an important plank of the country's response to Brexit and yet it still feels that the current Government is at best lukewarm about it.
"The Government could change this and give the North a huge confidence boost by committing in its Spring Statement to fund new east-west rail across the North and combine HS2 and HS3 into a single scheme. It should make it clear that the North is now at the front of the queue for transport investment, ahead of London and Crossrail 2. Put simply, there will be no Northern Powerhouse unless there is a major upgrade in our inadequate transport infrastructure.
"The Prime Minister should also signal that devolution in England will go deeper and further to tackle to entrenched inequalities that this report identifies. If the North is to raise education standards in line with the rest of England, then more power needs to be devolved over the whole 0-19 education journey. This, together with the full devolution of the DWP budget, would enable us to align education and skills with the needs of business.
"Greater Manchester is ready to play an energetic role in the development of the Northern Powerhouse but we need the Government to do the same and dispel the lingering doubts about its commitment to it."