George Osborne to hold second Budget focusing on NHS, welfare and Northern Powerhouse

Chancellor admits focus has been on Manchester, but promises to extend his job-boosting project across the north

George Osborne
George Osborne

Chancellor George Osborne is to hold a second Budget this year, with the Government’s “Northern Powerhouse” project high up the agenda.

In a break with tradition, Mr Osborne is to present a Budget statement on July 8, just months after his pre-election Budget in March.

He said: “On the 8th of July I am going to take the unusual step of having a second Budget of the year – because I don’t want to wait to turn the promises we made in the election into a reality.”

He added: “The Summer Budget will set out the government’s plan to deliver the savings set out in the election campaign and get Britain paying down its debts in a fair and balanced way. This will include protecting the NHS while making savings in Whitehall, cracking down on tax avoidance and reforming welfare so that we protect the most vulnerable while making sure the system is fair for the people who pay for it.

“The Budget will help business create jobs in Britain, by addressing our long term productivity challenge and investing in three million more apprenticeships. This will be a budget of a one nation government to make sure that the whole country feels the benefit of recovery by building a Northern Powerhouse and investing across the country.”

It’s the latest Government announcement designed to highlight a commitment to make election promises to boost the economy of the north come true.

Others include giving Stockton South MP James Wharton a ministerial role in the Department for Communities and Local Government as Minister for the Northern Powerhouse, and announcing that Jim O’Neill, a former Goldman Sachs chief economist, is to be a Conservative peer and minister with responsibility for driving forward devolution to cities outside London, under the title of commercial secretary.

Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire Chancellor George Osborne
Chancellor George Osborne

Read more: David Cameron makes Northern Powerhouse a priority in first days of new government

Mr Osborne has also offered local authorities autonomy and control over funding, if they agree to create a directly-elected “metro” mayor which would cover multiple local authorities.

Business leaders have stressed that the North East must be part of the Government’s Northern Powerhouse, a project to create jobs and economic growth in the north.

James Ramsbotham, chief executive, North East Chamber of Commerce, said: “The North East is a critical part of the UK’s economy and if we are to be at the forefront of a Northern Powerhouse, our region must be empowered to deliver more.

“The North East has a great deal to gain from devolution and should be making a strong case to Government for a similar deal to that of Manchester, but tailored to our specific needs. As a region we must agree what powers we wish to receive from devolution and what we would do with them.”

In a recent speech Mr Osborne admitted the focus of the project had been on Manchester so far - but said it had been important to demonstrate that devolution could work in one region before trying to introduce it across the country.

Speaking in Manchester, he said: “Some people have said to me: it’s all about Manchester. What about the rest of the north? What about the rest of the country?”

Mr Osborne added: “Let me be candid. I think if I had tried to deliver, simultaneously, new devolution settlements in every major city, at the same time, and tried to get every city authority to accept new elected mayors, it simply would not have happened.

“Getting Manchester through the Whitehall machinery and overcoming the political divide was difficult enough.

“But I always thought this: if I could work with you to achieve this new model of civic leadership and local power here in greater Manchester, I could hold it up to the rest of the country as the example of what was possible.

“If we here could step through this door to a better future, then others would follow. Not by force – as national government have so often tried to change local government – but by example and choice.”

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