A SENIOR Government minister has backed a campaign by newspapers across the North aimed at bringing new investment to the region.

Earlier this month, The Northern Echo joined forces with rival publishers to challenge political parties to commit to a package of policy measures to turbo-charge the North’s economy.

Business Secretary Greg Clark has now said he “shares the ambition” of the campaign, which has resulted in more than 30 newspapers calling on the main parties to spell out what they intend to do, and how they will work with others, to narrow the North-South divide.

The demands on the Government include a bespoke Industrial Strategy, an overhaul the region’s road and rail network, additional investment for schools, a programme to build a new generation of social housing, and a fundamental shift in decision making out of London.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Conservative leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt have both shown their support to the campaign, as has Home Secretary Sajid Javid.

Mr Clark said: “I have always championed programmes that deliver on the Northern Powerhouse ambition while devolving powers and funding decisions away from Whitehall; from the launch of devolution deals and metro mayors, to the work that is underway on initiatives such as the Tyne and Tees Local Industrial Strategy.

“This Government, through the modern Industrial Strategy and refreshed Northern Powerhouse strategy, is working to deliver an economy that benefits people in the North East. That is why we are investing £150m in the region through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and £75m in public and sustainable transport across Tees Valley. This is alongside 3,701 start-up loans, worth £28m, provided by British Business Bank to new businesses in the region.”

“I share the ambition of the Power Up The North campaign in highlighting the unique and important role the North has to play in shaping the future UK economy.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy added that last year, they put £15m into projects across the North-East from bioeconomy investments to new business capital through the Northern Accelerator.

They also said the Government has provided up to £170m funding for energy intensive clusters in Teesside and elsewhere to research and develop innovative solutions to lead the way to a decarbonised future.

Mr Corbyn said the North has suffered from “chronic underfunding” for years.

He added: “With so much wealth and power hoarded by a privilege few in London and the South East it is no surprise that people feel angry and ignored.”

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen joined the campaign’s call to “put the region first”, whilst Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson said the region was “punching below our weight”.

Last week, the next Conservative Prime Minister was urged by businesses to "reboot the Northern Powerhouse agenda" on the five year anniversary of the launch of the flagship investment initiative for the region.