Live updates as Boris Johnson makes speech to the North at Great Northern Conference

The Prime Minister is joining politicians and business leaders from across the north of England to discuss how to grow the economy and grow opportunities in the region at the Great Northern Conference, run by JPIMedia and The Northern Powerhouse Partnership.

Thursday, 22nd October 2020, 9:35 am

Staged as a virtual conference because of the coronavirus outbreak, the event will include debates about the biggest challenges facing leaders in the fields of business, education and local government.

Boris Johnson will address the Great Northern Conference (Photo by LEON NEAL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Live updates as Boris Johnson talks to Great Northern Conference

Last updated: Thursday, 22 October, 2020, 11:27

  • Conference opens at 9.30am with speech from Dan Jarvis
  • Boris Johnson and Grant Shapps also set to speak at virtual event
  • George Osborne to make speech about his Northern Powerhouse vision
  • Get involved by using the hashtag #onenorth on Twitter

Three areas to improve

Mr Osborne said there are three areas where we can improve to help support the North.

The first is devolution - he wants to see other voices heard during discussions.

The second is transport - people still need to get around.  Bringing the North together from the east to the west is important, as much as the north to the south.

The third is digital infrastructure - it’s important everyone has access to fast broadband.

The next session is a discussion on education and skills: levelling up, closing the gap and ensuring communities are set up to thrive in the future.

It’s being hosted by Danni Hewson from the business team at BBC 5Live. 

“The future is ours to shape,” she says.

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe - chair of West Yorkshire Combined Authority

Jamie Reid from Sellafield, which is sponsoring the session

Fiona Spellman - CEO of Shine Trust

Miranda Barker - CEO of East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce

Here’s a full preview so you know what to expect from throughout the day

Business leaders must play a major  role in reducing the skills deficit in the North of England, the Great Northern Conference was told.

In a debate with the title - Education & Skills: Levelling up, closing the gap and ensuring communities are set up tothrive in the future - which was sponsored by Sellafield Ltd- panellists said community and business groups have a key role to play in improving educational attainment.

Coun Susan Hinchcliffe

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leader of Bradford Council, highlighted concerns that unemployment could rise due to the pandemic.

Ms Hinchcliffe added: "We cannot underestimate the huge challenges we face at the moment."

She said the lockdown restrictions imposed on Bradford were having a damaging impact on the local economy.

She told the debate: "We must make sure we invest in human capital - our people. Poverty costs us money. I do believe in a major investment in skills coming out of this pandemic.

"We must make sure we have the right courses in the right places. Wherever you are in life, you need to get good careers advice. We need to view it differently and be more embracing of the skills agenda."

Health as the new wealth

We’re looking forward to having you Michael!

The conference will now be split into three different sessions.

- The importance of a culture strategy

- Reinvigorating our cities and towns in the post COVID world – how do we create a shared recovery in the North? sponsored by Arcadis. 

- Creating a Health agenda for the North sponsored by Northern Health Science Alliance.

Which one are you joining? Let us know using the hashtag #OneNorth

Jamie Reed, head of Corporate Affairs at Sellafield Ltd, highlighted the work Sellafield is doing to improve skills in the local economy.

He spoke about the success of its flagship education initiative: WELL (short for Western Excellence in Learning and Leadership) which involves every school in West Cumbria. It aims to embrace the Government’s levelling-up agenda with a focus on closing the education attainment gap.

It’s an initial investment of £1.7m that will fund a range of interventions developed by local experts who know the community and understand its needs. The plan has three pillars: raising standards; closing the gap; and personal wellbeing. 

Interventions include: upskilling teachers; addressing speech, language, and behaviour issues; improving attendance; supporting cultural education; and providing mental health support.  

These interventions, across more than 100 schools, are based upon one core mission: breaking the link between -economic disadvantage and educational attainment. Sellafield  wants to improve standards in every classroom in West Cumbria.  

Mr Reed added: "This isn't somebody else's problem..Community leaders working in partnership can try to solve these problems. We would like to  see more businesses doing what we are doing. "

He said business should play an active role in reducing the skills gap.

He added: "We can't leave these issues to Government and local authorities. We have got to lead from the front. That is what we are doing at Sellafield."

The Yorkshire Post columnist Jayne Dowle has had her say on what is expected of Boris Johnson by families in the North.

Thanks for taking part Fiona!

How important is wellbeing of staff? Let us know using #OneNorth

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