Government plans to build the Northern Powerhouse will be left on the brink of failure without boosted efforts to attract foreign investment, according to a new report.
Chancellor George Osborne has been seeking to bridge the economic gap between London and the North since June 2014 when he announced the powerhouse agenda.
However, according to research from the Centre for Economics and Business Research and law firm Irwin Mitchell, the divide will widen by a further £21.7bn by 2026, with the three fastest-growing cities – Milton Keynes, Cambridge and Oxford – all situated in the south of the country.
And the CEBR paper warned that after last month's Brexit vote, efforts to attract foreign investment must be increased, with a particular emphasis on infrastructure.
Niall Baker, chief executive of Irwin Mitchell’s business legal services team said: "The outcome of the EU referendum has created political uncertainty, but the need to rebalance the UK’s economy is as strong as ever. The benefits of transport improvements across the North are well understood but what is less clear is how it is going to be paid for.
"It is highly likely that direct investment from overseas will need to play a bigger role in the North than it does in London; however certainty about delivery timelines and future returns are important factors in the ability of schemes to attract such investment."