Westminster Social Policy Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7951044809 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7538736244.
For delegates already booked on, we will send you the online joining instructions (including links, event numbers and passwords) five working days before your conference. If you cannot find these in your inbox please email delegate.relations@forumsupport.co.uk

Next steps for the Northern Powerhouse - policy priorities, economic recovery post-COVID, and infrastructure development

TO BE PUBLISHED September 2020

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference  focuses on the future for the Northern Powerhouse - as the Government reemphasises the importance of its levelling up agenda and infrastructure development as part of the economic recovery from COVID-19.

Delegates will discuss priorities for:

  • delivery of local industrial strategies
  • infrastructure and funding for the region
  • developing skills and R&D capability
  • environmental policy
  • economic recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

Why this is relevant to discuss now - the context:

  • A range of new policies impacting the North - developments in devolution and mayoral authorities, research and development, affordable housing and digital infrastructure
  • Reports of a new Northern Powerhouse growth board being set up to support the Government’s levelling up agenda
  • The Northern Powerhouse Partnership five point plan for government to support economic recovery post COVID-19, prioritising training for those who have lost their jobs or left school and extra teaching for children who have fallen behind during the crisis, support the growth of green energy jobs, and transport and digital infrastructure projects
  • Funding:
    • government support for the region’s response to COVID-19, including to protect and increase transport services
    • the UK Shared Prosperity Fund - designed to replace EU Structural Funding as a tool to reduce regional inequalities; supporting collaboration between neighbouring regions
    • Town Deals - with 45 places in the Northern Powerhouse named as named as beneficiaries, each allowed to bid for £25m funding
    • the West Yorkshire devolution deal - to include a metro mayor, £1.1bn for investment over the next 30 years, and increased control over local services
    • the South Yorkshire devolution deal being set for approval in Parliament - with the region due to receive £900m in investment over the next 30 years and the metro mayor being granted new powers of control over transport, strategic planning and skills
    • government’s vision for levelling up research and development and commitment of an extra £22bn in this area by 2024/2025
  • Transport:

The discussion in detail:

Delivery of local industrial strategies (LIS), including:

  • linking the range of regional economic priorities across the North and supporting balanced economic growth
  • collaboration with neighbouring regions - such as North Wales and the Midlands - as well as moving forward with the West Yorkshire devolution deal
  • moving forward with the West Yorkshire devolution deal

Funding for the region, including:

  • supporting economic recovery for businesses and individuals as part of the pandemic response
  • priorities for the North from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund
  • regeneration and maximising benefit for communities selected for new Town Deals
  • strategies for attracting wider inward investment

Developing skills and R&D capability in the North, including strategies for:

  • deepening university and industry partnerships
  • making sure that the skills taught are what businesses need

Environmental policy, with discussion expected on:

  • the role of the North of England in moving towards net zero emissions and improving natural capital
  • next steps for NP11, the group of 11 of the region's LEPs covering 76 local authorities outlining the potential for reducing the region’s carbon emissions by 50% against 2005 levels by 2032

Infrastructure priorities:

  • Transport:
    • HS2’s impact on Northern connectivity following the Oakervee Review and government commitments to delivering Phase 2b in full
    • priorities for implementing phase 2b and northern powerhouse rail
    • new transport plans for mayoral authorities
    • arrangements for running the North’s rail services, the future for Northern Rail, and priorities for reopening lines
  • Housing:
    • plans to make the North of England a world leader in Modern Methods of Construction and develop a construction corridor between Leeds and Liverpool
    • the impact of national housing policy on new developments - including MHCLG’s plans to introduce a new National Design Model and extend the Affordable Homes Programme
  • Digital:
    • priorities for expanding mobile coverage, the roll out of full-fibre broadband, and tackling the digital divide as more and more people work from home and remotely
    • the future for 5G as government outlines more support for the 5G testbed programme and as Liverpool 5G testbed continues its work aimed at reducing the digital divide

The agenda:

  • Strategic priorities for the Northern Powerhouse and its role in economic recovery from the pandemic
  • Delivering balanced economic growth across the Powerhouse - supporting communities, key sectors, and individuals, and attracting businesses and investment:
    • Balancing regional economic priorities, attracting investment, and implementing Local Industrial Strategies
    • Tackling the productivity gap, developing skills, harnessing new technology, and utilising growing opportunities for business
    • Strategies for establishing world-leading R&D facilities across the Powerhouse
    • Achieving success across the Powerhouse in progress towards net-zero emissions and priorities for improving natural capital
  • Next steps for infrastructure development in the North - connectivity, value for money, and maximising the economic impact:
    • Future housing developments and creating a construction corridor
    • The future for rail infrastructure in the region - building trust in the network, linking with active travel schemes, and moving forward with Northern Powerhouse Rail
    • Priorities for HS2 - policy certainty, cost-efficient services and engaging with communities, and contribution to economic growth
    • Expanding digital infrastructure to support a change in working patterns and behaviour, improving the quality of service, and accelerating 5G rollout
  • Next steps for policy in the Northern Powerhouse and the levelling up agenda

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders.

It is certainly the case with this conference. Places have been reserved by parliamentary pass-holders from the All Party Parliamentary Light Rail Group, and officials from BEIS; MHCLG; the Cabinet Office; the Department for Transport; Homes England; the Office of Rail and Road; the DCMS; the Department for International Trade; the DHSC; the Education and Skills Funding Agency; the Health & Safety Executive; Industrial Strategy Council; National Infrastructure Commission; the Office for Product Safety and Standards and the Welsh Government.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Price: £95 PLUS VAT

Shortly after every Westminster Social Policy Forum seminar, a briefing document is produced. This is distributed to all delegates on the day as well as to our policymaker contacts in government, and to stakeholders more widely.

A seminar publication provides a timely record of proceedings, and acts as a guide to the latest thinking on current policy issues for those unable to be at the event.

This publication includes


Contributions from keynotes and panellists, including accompanying slides*
*Subject to approval

Delegate Pack

Information from the day, including delegate list, biographies and agenda


Transcript of questions and comments posed to speakers from attending delegates


Supplementary articles from speakers
and delegates