With over half of the UK’s transport budget invested in London, research points to ‘chronic underinvestment’ in northern transport infrastructure projects.
Think-tank IPPR North has produced a report highlighting the disparity in spending on transport infrastructure throughout the country, and warns that this will worsen unless changes are made.
While investment in London’s Crossrail alone will reach £4.7 billion over the course of the next year, total spending on transport projects in the north will reach only £6.6 billion.
These figures are illustrative of the fact that Londoners receive £1,943, three times more transport investment per head than residents of other English cities.
Multiple independent studies emphasise the importance of new investments up north such as the coast to coast rail line HS3, which could create 850,000 new jobs and apparently unlock up to £97 billion.
Author of the report, Grace Blakeley, describes how the problem is two-fold: ‘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.’
The picture is not entirely bleak – although still lagging behind London, North-west England is the strongest of the region with investments of £680 per head.
Experts are positive about the progress in the North-West and Theresa May’s commitment to George Osborne’s northern powerhouse programme, but many agree that more must be done.
In a statement on the report, director of the IPPR North think-tank, Ed Cox emphasised this point.
‘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.
‘We must however make more progress like this if we want to see spades in the ground any time soon.’
The think-tank concludes by urging the Secretary of State to adopt a ‘North First’ approach to transport in order to make the best of economic assets and boost productivity outside of London.
Alongside these recommendations, the report encourages the North to ‘take control’ of its own funding decisions in order to unlock ‘real and fair prosperity’.