Prime minister Theresa May has stressed her commitment to the Northern Powerhouse economic programme ©123RF
Prime minister Theresa May has stressed her commitment to the Northern Powerhouse economic programme ©123RF

Northerners miss out to Londoners on transport spend

23 February 2017

The government is set to spend on average £1,500 more per head on transport for Londoners than people in the North of England, according to a think tank.

IPPR North said Yorkshire and the Humber will get £190 per head of transport spending annually from 2016-17 onwards and the North East £220 – compared to £1,940 for Londoners.

The North West is benefiting from the government’s Northern Powerhouse and it will attract £680 per head – more than any region outside London.

In a report IPPR North urges the construction of an east-west “HS3” – also known as “Northern Powerhouse rail” or “Crossrail for the North” – which it claims would be key to rebalancing the UK economy post-Brexit.

Prime minister Theresa May has stressed her commitment to the Northern Powerhouse economic programme, launched by George Osborne, and the report anticipates the benefits projects such as the M60 Quadrant and the ‘Northern Hub’ will bring to the North.

The study finds HS3 could unlock up to £97bn and create 850,000 new jobs by 2050. It claims Britain receives lower spending levels on transport infrastructure than Germany, France and the US – possibly because it is easier to invest in their infrastructure, IPPR North believes.

The report urges the government to announce new funding in northern infrastructure, with a view to leveraging private sector funding in its next budget.

It suggests the Treasury should allow new Northern infrastructure to raise capital on the pensions market

The report also calls for the Transport for the North body to be given TfL-style powers to invest and for the National Infrastructure Commission to be granted greater room to set infrastructure priorities.

Grace Blakeley, researcher at IPPR North and report author, said: “It currently takes longer to travel by train from Liverpool to Hull than from London to Paris – building better links between the North’s cities will boost the nation’s economy by driving up northern productivity.

“The spending gap between London and the North remains huge but this is about more than money, the North needs to take back control over transport spending too, to sensibly invest in a range of northern infrastructure projects and unlock more potential.”

Ed Cox, director of IPPR North, said the North was “not asking for simple handouts” but for powers to finance infrastructure itself as London currently does.

“There is a long, long way to go to rebalance the UK but these figures suggest we’re seeing the green shoots of the Northern Powerhouse idea being more than mere bluster,” he said.

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