Today a “Manifesto of the North” was launched by businesses and elected leaders in the north of England.
It outlines a bold vision to unlock the economic potential of the whole of the North, including the power to lead the green industrial revolution, have greater control over transport and skills, and a commitment to proper, long-term investment from the Treasury determined by the needs of our regions.
The TUC has long argued about the urgency in tackling regional inequalities so no matter where you are born or where you work, you can get a good job and provide for your family.
But with the UK economy in the relegation zone , stagnating wages and austerity policies continuing to hit working class communities , we can no longer pretend that the current model is working.
Workers and local communities must have a real say in decisions that affect them.
Our Great Jobs in Great Places report made several recommendations about how to effectively rebalance the economy using place-based industrial strategies.
Trade unions want to see great jobs, world-class public services and worker voice in every part of the country.
We have been working with local and regional leaders to promote worker voice, proper pay and secure work, investment in skills and training through Employment Charters , Local Industrial Strategies and procurement policies.
It is essential that any economic growth as a result of higher productivity benefits workers.
We welcome the inclusion of education, skills and work as a key pillar of the Manifesto of the North, with commitments to lifelong learning, fair pay and improving systems to support better health and wellbeing.
Trade unions will ensure leaders and businesses apply these commitments to all jobs in the economy so that every job is a great job - whether that’s high-tech industries prioritising the local workforce, or social carers across the region receiving guaranteed hours and high-quality on the job training with opportunities to progress.
The TUC in Yorkshire and the Humber are leading the way in engaging companies and organisations in the move to reduce and eliminate carbon emissions from our economy.
Our regional task force of trade unions, employers, academics and politicians are working in social partnership to make our vital industries sustainable and carbon-free.
This will not only safeguard jobs but will give opportunities to young people entering highly skilled, well paid jobs with bright futures for themselves and their families.
Likewise, we need a transport revolution which works for working people.
Publicly owned buses which are clean, affordable, that run on time and get people to and from work connecting communities and reducing isolation.
And we need better connectivity for rail and light rail (such as trams) in our towns and cities.
Because good public transport is essential for a both a productive workforce and for people’s livelihoods.
But it’s not enough to just move power away from Westminster without resources to deliver change. None of this can be realised without proper, long-term investment, proportional to need.
The Conservative Party has pledged a “new” £3.6bn Towns Fund for 100 English towns , of which 45 towns are in the Northern Powerhouse area, as part of the government’s commitment to “level up all regions by boosting productivity, skills and living standards”.
However, this isn’t all new money. It’s a combination of the £1.6bn announced in March as part of the Stronger Towns Fund, and the Future High Streets Fund.
Out of the total £3.6bn announced, the Prime Minister has only promised £1.325bn of new money on top of what was already in the pipeline.
We have already written about how serious cash is needed to counteract decades of austerity and underinvestment in English towns and high streets .
The Labour Party today announced a £150bn Social Transformation Fund , promised for the first five years of government to invest in schools, hospitals and council houses in the North, with a “powerful section of the Treasury” being based in the North to move away from London-centric, centralised decision-making.
Whatever the outcome of the General Election, the call to do things differently – place-based policy-making, economic growth benefiting communities, a real voice for workers – must be designed and delivered in partnership with unions and communities if we are going to deliver real change for working class families.
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