‘Minister for Northern Powerhouse’ appointed in reshuffle

12 May 15

Chancellor George Osborne’s plan to boost the economy of the north of England through devolution to local authorities has taken a step forward with the creation of a ‘minister for the Northern Powerhouse’ in the government reshuffle.

Following the appointment of Greg Clark as local government secretary in yesterday’s post-election cabinet changes, James Wharton has been named as a minister in the Department for Communities and Local Government with responsibility for the plans.

In the last parliament, Osborne set out a series of policies intended to increase growth across the north of England, including giving additional powers and financial freedoms to local authorities that were willing to create mayors for city regions. The initiative has already led to groundbreaking devolution deal with Greater Manchester, which will create a mayor for its combined authority, while both the Sheffield City region and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority also reached less wide-ranging pacts with Whitehall without mayors.

In other appointments to DCLG made by Prime Minister David Cameron today, former armed forces minster Mark Francois has also been named as minister of state at DCLG, with responsibilities to be confirmed.

Marcus Jones, a former leader of Nuneaton and Bedworth Council, has been named local government minister in the department, where he will replace Kris Hopkins. This is Jones’ first ministerial post. The prime minister has also confirmed that housing and planning minister Brandon Lewis has been reappointed.

Other appointments made today across Whitehall include former Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt being named to care minister, while Jo Johnson, who authored the Conservative election manifesto, will replace Clark as minister for universities and science.

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