Philip Hammond hints at new Northern Powerhouse funding boost
Philip Hammond has said the Northern Powerhouse is "at the top of" the Government's agenda, in a fresh hint it may receive a funding boost in the Autumn Budget.
Theresa May has been accused of failing to provide enough support for the project, which was the brainchild of former Chancellor George Osborne.
But when asked about money for improved transport links in the north, Philip Hammond said: “I’m not going to give you . . . the details of what’s going to be in the Autumn Budget that isn’t even yet written.
“But you can be assured that the Northern Powerhouse is right at the top of our agenda. It’s a key part of the [Government’s] industrial strategy.”
In July the Department for Transport dropped its plans for electrification of lines in Wales, the Midlands and Lake District.
The upgrade to the TransPennine route between Manchester, Leeds and York was still being “designed and developed”, the Government added.
Labour slammed the move, saying the the refusal to commit to electrification meant amounted to “pulling the plug” on its Northern Powerhouse project – though the Government called his claims “nonsense”.
This week Mr Hammond met the metro mayors of Greater Manchester, Liverpool and the Tees Valley, but Andy Burnham said he did “not get the answers [Manchester] was looking for”.
“He is certainly listening — however, I am afraid we did not get the answers we were looking for. “We did not see the colour of his money . . . we want to see clear commitments by the Autumn [Budget] to rail investment the north of England needs.”