Utilities are pumping £2 billion worth of investment every year across the north of England.
That’s according to a new report launched by Northern Gas Networks, Northern Powergrid, Yorkshire Water and Northumbrian Water, which together make up Infrastructure North.
It revealed for every £1 the four companies invest, a ripple effect of 87p extra spending is created in the region.
That means they will generate additional investment worth £10 billion in the next five years, the report claims.
The four firms serve around 13% – or more than eight million people – of the UK population and contribute £2 billion per year in investment and expenditure as well as support 9,000 jobs.
Together, they cover the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, Northern Cumbria and Northern Lincolnshire.
Mark Horsley, CEO of Gas Power Networks told ELN the companies have seen a shift of around 40% increase in the supply chain and around 1,000 jobs have been created in the last two years.
However, he said: “We’re the silent people because we’re just underground, nobody sees us. You turn your tap on you get water, you put your central heating on you get gas, you turn your light switch you get light. The only time when we get attention is when it isn’t there so we take a lot of things for granted in terms of what we do.
“What we really want from businesses is to talk to us to get more ahead of what they’re trying to do and what their aspirations are and then we can facilitate that with our networks because we have got an embedded network.”
One of the big challenges for utilities in the North is skills and retaining those skills is even more difficult, according to Mr Horsley.
He believes while the UK Government must do more to promote what companies do in the energy sector, businesses must also make the job roles attractive to get younger people to join the industry.
The four companies have however pledged to take on more than 700 apprentices in the next five years.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan, MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed, who organised the launch event at the House of Commons said the UK Government’s plans for a Northern Powerhouse is playing an important role in attracting investment in the region.
She told ELN: “The Northern Powerhouse is becoming a very key part of investment decisions, which businesses, the public sector and our big infrastructure companies can make together to make sure we can see the economy grow as fast, if not faster, in the North as we’ve seen in the South of the UK over many years.
“Our energy utilities are absolutely vital, they employ hundreds of thousands of people across the UK. They are the engine that makes the nation work.”