Simon Gray, partner at accountancy and advisory firm Hentons.
Nick Hill

What a Northern Powerhouse in Yorkshire means to: Simon Gray, partner at Hentons

Bdaily’s newest series aims to give the business people of Yorkshire the opportunity to voice their opinions on the the government’s Northern Powerhouse initiative within the region.

It has been close to two years since George Osborne first announcedthe government’s aim of creating a ‘Northern Powerhouse’, and yet it can be argued that there is still very little understanding of what this actually is.

Bdaily now hopes to grasp a clear concept of a Northern Powerhouse by talking with Yorkshire business leaders to uncover how close the region has come to reaching independent economic prosperity.

Up next is Simon Gray, partner at the Leeds-based accountancy and advisory firm Hentons.

Hi Simon, so what do you think the Northern Powerhouse will do for Yorkshire?

The biggest benefit will come from improving the transport links between the Northern cities.

If you can reduce travel times you create a cohesive economy that will rival the South East.

What will the Northern Powerhouse do for Hentons?

A ‘supercity’ along the M62 corridor would have a population of 9m and a combined economy of over £100bn, double the size of Wales. This creates huge business opportunities for a firm like Hentons.

Has the government done enough to convince you of its commitment to Osborne’s vision?

Yes, they seem pretty keen, it has remained a focus in all PBR’s and Budgets. I think the impact will be seen over years rather than months.

Connectivity has been a major driving force behind the Northern Powerhouse. Do you believe that spending billions of infrastructure will improve the economic climate in the North?

Yes, it will make the North one giant conurbation, which social economists believe will enhance both output and productivity.

What, if any, other sectors/industries should the government key in on to achieve a Northern Powerhouse?

All industries can be part of this, it seems there is an early focus on high growth sectors such as digital and fintech.

Are there any other areas which you believe money should be spent on, ahead of transport?

I believe transport is the key to making the Northern Powerhouse work. Ideally, the government would prioritise the region as one giant Enterprise Zone!

As with the Sheffield’s £900m agreement, should the other regions in Yorkshire try to strike a devolution deal with the government?

No, an investment of this scale and magnitude needs to be led centrally.

Will the Northern Powerhouse be realised in Yorkshire?

Yes I believe it will, but it will take some time.

Thank you Simon.

Don’t miss our latest Northern Powerhouse coveragehere. To nominate a Yorkshire business leader to be part of our new series, contact Nick at nick.hill@bdaily.co.uk.

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