Business backs Berry’s new role

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Business leaders have welcomed Theresa May’s move to extend the role of Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry in one of her last moves as Prime Minister.

The Lancashire MP’s role, which had been based in the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, has now become a joint appointment with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

In a statement the government said the move would improve oversight and coordination of local economic growth policy.

And it would ensure “key policies like the £1.6bn Stronger Towns Fund and the Northern Powerhouse are at the heart of delivering the government’s Modern Industrial Strategy.”

It added: “The appointment comes ahead of a refreshed Northern Powerhouse Strategy, due to be published later this year, bringing together the government, northern businesses and local leaders with a renewed focus on growth.” 

The CBI’s North West regional director Damian Waters said: “This is a welcome announcement and we look forward to working with Jake Berry in the days, weeks and months ahead. 

“The Northern Powerhouse is a key part of the UK’s economy, adding over £339bn to the economy a year, yet its productivity continues to lag behind other parts of the country. 

At the heart of the Northern Powerhouse is an unshakeable partnership between business, communities and government.

“This new position will be welcome by businesses, recognising the need for a strong advocate for the region.

“It is an important first step towards taking a much more joined up approach across departments and embedding the Industrial Strategy in all parts of the government’s work.

“Continuing to work closely with businesses and stakeholders across the North will be key for the minister in order to promote the important work of this region nationally and internationally, particularly considering the leading role the region will play in addressing the Grand Challenges as set out within the Industrial Strategy, and the existing and future sector strengths of this region.” 

Rossendale and Darwen MP Mr Berry said the departing Prime Minister had given “unwavering support” to the Northern Powerhouse.

He added: “At the heart of the Northern Powerhouse is an unshakeable partnership between business, communities and government.”

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said: “With this broadened ministerial role, the government has cemented its long-term commitment to the Northern Powerhouse.

“The government has an empowered minister ready to roll up their sleeves and deliver for the Northern Powerhouse and local communities across the country.”