Seven in 10 northern businesses don't believe government will invest in the Northern Powerhouse, despite HS3, Crossrail 2 and infrastructure pledges

 
Francesca Washtell
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General Views Of The City Of Manchester
Manchester is one of the cities that would benefit from Northern Powerhouse project investments (Source: Getty)

During his Budget speech George Osborne upped his pledges towards the Northern Powerhouse project, but northern businesses are not convinced the government will deliver on its plans.

Despite the infrastructure commitments such as giving the green light to HS3 between Manchester and Leeds, key A-road upgrades and funding Crossrail 2, seven in 10 respondents said they did not believe the government would deliver the Northern Powerhouse.

More than half - 56 per cent - of respondents also said they did not believe the government is "genuinely committed to increasing investment" towards the ambitious powerhouse plans, according to the survey from peer-to-peer business lender MarketInvoice in a study of 1,000 small businesses conducted by Censuswide.

Although northern businesses seem to have lost faith in Osborne, southern businesses were far more supportive of the Chancellor's initiatives. Among London-based businesses, three quarters believed in the project.

"Clearly the chancellor still needs to convince Northern businesses that he's committed to this plan. Scepticism is natural when local businesses have yet to see a brick laid. So far they've had to watch on with envy as projects in the South, such as Crossrail, develop at pace. These are the very businesses the Northern Powerhouse will need if it is to be a success," Anil Stocker, co-founder and chief executive of MarketInvoice, said.

"If the government wants to win the support of businesses in the North, actions will speak louder than words."

Delivering on the infrastructure pledges was also a concern for Mike Redshaw, director of the Manchester-based chartered surveyors Nolan Redshaw.

"Overall, I would commend the good housekeeping contained within the budget, with growth predictions still positive and a sensible commitment to a budget surplus. My biggest concern, however, is over the deliverability of the proposed infrastructure investment into the Northern Powerhouse," Redshaw said in response to the Budget announcements.

"Although the backing for HS3 is to be welcomed, with no widening of the M62 having taken place since 1971 and with current levels of infrastructure investment five times higher in the South East than the North, the proposed road improvements within the North, including the M62, are way overdue and the finance needs to be guaranteed now."

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