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Osborne's DevoBudget

08/07/2015 16:23 BST | Updated 08/07/2016 10:59 BST

At the Budget Chancellor George Osborne once again put devolution and the Northern Powerhouse centre stage, in what is becoming a recurring feature of Osborne's parliamentary set-pieces.

In the run up to the Budget, the Northern Powerhouse ran into its first setbacks. First, plans for a large scale rail infrastructure upgrade were put on hold. This was then followed by the Department for Communities and Local Government having to clarify actually how much money has been set aside for rail improvements in the North; £3bn instead of the initial £13bn touted.

Osborne's Budget revealed a number of important points around the Northern Powerhouse and the wider devolution agenda. Most evident is Osborne's own continued enthusiasm for the project.

Osborne is personally tied to the idea of the Northern Powerhouse, and he clearly isn't going to let it fade away in the manner that other popular slogans have done. The Global Race springs to mind from the early stages of the last Parliament.

Secondly, it is clear that the Northern Powerhouse agenda, alongside the wider move for increased devolution across the rest of the UK, is being treated as a living process. One of the hall marks so far around the Northern Powerhouse has been a sort of piecemeal approach, unfolding and growing over time.

This approach can be explained by the origins of the Northern Powerhouse agenda. Launched in June last year, it was partly a reaction to the local and European Parliament election results, in which the Conservatives were pushed down into third place.

Since last June, the Conservative Party has been developing what the Northern Powerhouse means in practice. Recent research from IPPR North highlighted that although the Northern Powerhouse enjoys widespread support as a concept, there is still confusion around what it means on the ground. Osborne's Budget seeks to correct this, and will be followed with other incremental steps as this Parliament develops.

The Budget highlighted one other element around the Northern Powerhouse - 'the Manchester model'. The historic deal announced at the Autumn Statement last year between Whitehall and the 10 local authorities of Greater Manchester acts as a roadmap for the wider devolution agenda.

In his speech Osborne said the deal agreed with Greater Manchester is available to other cities who want to go down a similar path. We heard at the Budget that Sheffield, Liverpool and Leeds are in talks with HM Treasury.

Manchester has firmly positioned itself as the leading voice in the Northern Powerhouse and the wider cities agenda. This means what is promised in Manchester today could happen elsewhere tomorrow.

The Budget is another positive step in the right direction for the Northern Powerhouse, but the run of successive announcements now need to turn into action, delivering tangible benefits. Ultimately, this is how Osborne will be judged.