A new analysis of Department of Transport spending highlights more of a North-South divide than ever – revealing that more money has been spent on London’s new ‘Elizabeth’ Underground line than on all the projects in Northern England combined.
Over the next four years of Conservative government, the DfT is set to spend £280 per person in the North; compared to £1,870 pp in London.
Prime Minister Theresa May has previously stressed the importance of bridging the north-south divide in terms of industrial strategy for Britain, but is yet to endorse the former Chancellor George Osborne’s policy of promoting a so-called “Northern Powerhouse”.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (the IPPR) released these figures this week, and are unimpressed – describing the the lack of investment in transport links across Northern England as a “national disgrace”. The report also shows that the total spend on Crossrail will be £4.6bn between 2016-17 and 2020-21, which exceeds spending on all projects in the North put together. Those sit at £4.3bn.
England’s North East will see investment of £300 per person, the North West £290, Yorkshire & Humber £250, and London £1,900, it found.
Ed Cox, director of IPPR’s northern office, suggested a link between this disparity across different parts of the country and the strong turnout in support of Brexit in many regions of England at the referendum: “The referendum result showed that now more than ever, we need a ‘North First’ approach to investment. To build Theresa May’s ‘Better Britain’, we must focus on a better North”.
Mr Cox has written to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to urge him to close the spending gap and allow the North further powers over its own funding decisions.
The IPPR’s director in London, Tom Kibasi, said: “The time it takes to travel, on hugely dated infrastructure, between our great regional cities is a national disgrace – this is not what happens in Germany, Japan or France, with their fantastic rail links, or the United States, with its highly developed regional air travel. Given the Brexit result, the North of England must urgently see growing prosperity. A proper east-west crossing would boost northern and UK growth, and must now take priority above all other major transport projects, including Crossrail 2 and HS2”.
Do you agree with the IPPR; should this spending be split more equally? Let us know in the comments below!
Author Lex Barber