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Axed jobs expose powerhouse sham

A “NORTHERN POWERHOUSE” conference staged by the Tory government this week comes amid plans to close the north branch of its own business department — with the loss of hundreds of jobs.

The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) slammed the “sheer hypocrisy of government policies towards northern England” yesterday, before the conference in Manchester.

The two-day event starting tomorrow comes after the government announced the closure of the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills northern regional office in Sheffield last month, throwing 250 jobs on the scrapheap.

The work is to be transferred to London despite the conference, which will be attended by senior government officials and business leaders, geared to boost the government’s “northern powerhouse” spin.

UK Trade and Investment, backed by the department, will be an exhibitor at the conference and its chief executive Catherine Raines will chair a debate entitled The North as an International Powerhouse.

Lord O’Neill, Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, is a keynote speaker.

The event is described as “a unique opportunity to showcase the commercial potential of the north of England in the global market.”

PCS said government ministers have provided no business case for shutting the Sheffield office and shifting the work to Whitehall.

The union’s general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Backing a major conference on the opportunities available in north of England serves only to highlight the government’s hypocrisy and bizarre logic of moving jobs back to central London.”

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