Only Half of Small Business Owners Support Osborne’s “Northern Powerhouse”

UK small enterprises cite greater control over local spending as crucial to the “devolution revolution”

Only Half of Small Business Owners Support Osborne’s “Northern Powerhouse”

Just 50% of small to medium sized business owners back chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne’s “Northern Powerhouse” plan, according to a new report Federation for Small Businesses (FSB).

The survey of more than 3,000 members, revealed that while nine in 10 (93%) small business owners claimed to know about the “Northern Powerhouse” – a fifth (21%) said they were not actually clear what the concept meant in practice.

Furthermore, almost a fifth (16%) of Northern firms still need to be persuaded about how the “Northern Powerhouse” concept will positively impact their business.

Small enterprises cited greater local control over spending (40%) as their top priority for the “devolution revolution” alongside investments in digital infrastructure (37%), inter-city transport (37%) and workplace skills (36%).

In the 2015 Budget, Osborne announced a raft of measures to support the “Northern Powerhouse” such as allowing Greater Manchester to retain 100% of additional growth in business rates, and investing £11m to expand tech hubs in Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield.

On the report findings, Claudia Harris, chief executive officer of The Careers & Enterprise Company, said:

“There is a growing, industry-wide, consensus that more needs to be done across the country to prepare the future generation for the world of work.

“As the FSB has revealed today, small businesses in the North are enthusiastic about the prospect of Northern Powerhouse, but have cited investment in workforce skills as crucial if it is to be successful.”

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