Northern Regions Offered Chance to Go Their Own Way

England's three northern regions will push for more influence over Whitehall spending priorities for their areas as the Deputy Prime Minister unveiled a strategy to tackle the £30bn productivity gap between the north and south. Momentum is growing to change the way Whitehall policymakers tackle key issues such as worklessness in a move that could see national policies dropped in favour of tailored solutions for northern England. The overriding message from the launch of the Northern Way business plan was that city-regions must build a case for changing the way the north’s £60bn a year of Government spending is used. Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said the £30bn productivity gap between the north and south would only be bridged if future spending reviews focused resources on priorities identified by the north’s three regions. The business plan sets out how the Northern Way’s £100m growth fund would be spent over the next three years. Much of the emphasis is on improving skills, research and innovation and getting people on incapacity benefits back to work. A Northern Way summit will be staged in November to review progress on the strategy.