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A new independent report launched at the House of Commons today (14 December) reveals utility companies are driving economic regeneration across the north of England through £2 billion worth of investment per year.

A number of MPs from the Northern region attended the launch of the report, which has been undertaken by Edge Analytics on behalf of Northern Gas Networks, Northern Powergrid, Yorkshire Water and Northumbrian Water, which together make up Infrastructure North.

The report shows that for every £1 the four companies invest, a ripple effect of 87p additional spend in the region is created. This means that over the next five years, they’ll generate additional investment of £10 billion in the north. The report highlights:

  • The north has the potential to be a driving force in the UK economy – if the Northern Powerhouse region were a country it would be the ninth most economically significant in Europe.
  • The economic contribution of four northern utility companies – £2billion per year investment and expenditure and 9,000 jobs. These companies serve 13% of the UK population – more than eight million people.

Tom Fielden, Finance Director of Northern Powergrid said: “Since our last report two years ago, our four companies have made a significant economic impact.  There are now 40% more businesses in our supply chains with 33% more within the north. Some 1,000 jobs have been created and our commitment to our communities has strengthened further, with

30,000 volunteering hours over the last year, 49,000 children reached through educational visits and one million visitors to recreation sites.”

Speaking at the launch event, Heidi Mottram CEO of Northumbrian Water, said: “By working together we are helping to sustain and encourage economic growth in the north. Collectively we are investing £2.16bn each year in the region to ensure customers continue to receive high quality and reliable services. Services which are a vital part of everyday life, such as energy and water, are needed to make everything else work. This investment is key to developing the northern economy, and is an important part of the Northern Powerhouse goal to rebalance growth across the UK. The contribution of this unique partnership is also making the north a fantastic place to live, work and visit, now and in the future.” 

Mark Horsley, CEO of Northern Gas Networks added:Over the next five years we plan to invest over £10 billion in operational and capital expenditure projects and a further £1.3 billion on salaries.  However this report doesn’t just talk about our impact and growth, it also recognises the wider potential and the opportunities for strengthening the north such as our wider societal commitments.  These include tackling key issues where we have a part to play such as skills and training, poverty, resource efficiency, education, innovation projects, environmental impact and more to improve the health and wellbeing of our region.”

Richard Flint, Yorkshire Water Chief Executive, comments: “Although we are beginning to see signs of economic growth, we understand that affordability is still a big issue for our customers. We are committed to keeping costs down for our customers and bills will be reduced in real terms over the next five years. A joint approach means we are also best placed to offer additional support to the more vulnerable members of our society.”

The Infrastructure North collaboration is unique and one that senior political figures are urging others to follow.

James Wharton MP, Minister for the Northern Powerhouse, commented: “I’m very pleased to see collaboration – the key lifeblood of the Northern Powerhouse – between these companies to align plans for growth and invest in long-term solutions. I’d welcome further collaboration with other companies across the north to extend this good work.

“I commend these companies for the way they are helping to sustain economic growth in the north, and improve the health and wellbeing of their regions. I am sure you will read the report with great interest.”

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, MP for Berwick upon Tweed comments: “We have an expectation that when we turn on our taps that water will come out, turn the central heating on and our homes will become warm or flick a switch that the lights will come on, and rightly so.  But as we will hear it is time we as leaders be more mindful of how we can work with those who supply our energy and water to make sure our investments get the best outcomes for our communities.  Clearly together we can make our region even stronger.”

To read the full report, visit infrastructurenorth.co.uk.

Follow the launch live on Twitter using the hashtag #infranorth