Constituency MP Justin Madders (Lab) has discovered it doesn’t know.
The concept is said by Chancellor George Osborne, a Cheshire MP, to comprise a group of northern cities sufficiently close to each other ‘that combined they can take on the world’.
It even has its own minister – north east MP James Wharton.
Announcing the move last year, Mr Osborne said: “I will work tirelessly with anyone across political divides in any of these great cities to make the Northern Powerhouse a reality.”
Twelve months on, Mr Osborne used his first speech after the election to boast: “We’ve put the power into the Northern Powerhouse.”
But Mr Madders says he was left surprised when Mr Osborne’s right-hand man, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury Greg Hands, was unable to provide an answer after he asked what the geographical boundaries of the Northern Powerhouse actually are.
He had sought a reply in a written question to Mr Osborne. Instead, the Chief Secretary was unable to define a geographical area and instead explained the Northern Powerhouse was ‘an idea.’
“The Northern Powerhouse is based on the idea, supported by economic theory, that through pooling the individual strengths of the cities, towns and regions of the North we can achieve a reduction in the economic disparity between London and the North,” he explained.
Mr Madders said: “Whatever the rhetoric of George Osborne, the policies of this Government have had a devastating effect on communities in the north, so it will come as a surprise to nobody that the Northern Powerhouse seems to exist only as a figment of his imagination.
“Throughout the election campaign, the Chancellor made a huge play of his commitment to the Northern Powerhouse, but within weeks of the election has already scrapped key transport projects. Meanwhile, councils across the region are facing further cuts which will hit the frontline services that local people rely upon.”
He concluded: “If the Chancellor really believes in the Northern Powerhouse, step one surely has to be knowing where it actually is.”
With the Chancellor revealing his emergency budget today, business leaders and council chiefs in the north will be anxious to know if the powerhouse will really power along given the recent ‘pause’ in vital improvements to transport links between Leeds and Manchester and the prospect of another £13bn being cut from budgets including transport and local government according to commentators.
And will the MP find out if Ellesmere Port and Neston is in it?
There will be plenty of interest today (Wednesday, July 8) when Chancellor George Osborne delivers the first Conservative budget in almost 20 years.
No longer working in coalition with the Liberal Democrats, the chancellor will have more free rein to impose his ideas and policies on the nation.
One factor which may yet prove important for Ellesmere Port is the concept of the Northern Powerhouse, much touted by the chancellor in recent months.
A huge investment in the north would be a welcome boost to industry and commercial businesses – both big and small – in the region.
But even at this early stage, cracks are beginning to appear in the Government’s plan, with Labour MP Andy Burnham slamming the idea as ‘a northern powercut’.
First and foremost though, the Government has to at least define the ‘north’ in this ‘Northern Powerhouse’ concept, and whether it will include areas such as Ellesmere Port and Neston.
It certainly should, as it could allow successful local businesses such as Vauxhall, Urenco, Stanlow Refinery, Cheshire Oaks and many more to thrive long into the future.