Think tank IPPR North has published its latest analysis of regional transport spending, highlighting that planned investment in the North West equates to £1,500 less per head than in London.
According to IPPR, investment in London amounts to £3,636 per person. Overall, the North will receive £1,247 per person and within the North, the North West will receive £2,062 per person, Yorkshire and the Humber will see £511, and the North East £519.
Consistently, when IPPR North has highlighted the transport spending deficit in the North compared to London, the Government has released statements contesting the figures, calling them “inaccurate” and “misleading”, as was the case in response to today’s report.
In the summary of the report, Luke Raikes, senior research fellow at IPPR North, defended his figures and explained why they are so at odds with the numbers released by the Government:
“Every year IPPR North undertakes two analyses of transport spending: historic spending, and planned spending. Every year this shows that central Government has spent significantly more on transport in London historically, and still plans to do so in future
“The Government’s own analysis appears to show that the North West is set to receive the most transport investment per capita. But the Government excludes almost two-thirds of spending in the pipeline. They make two assumptions which we believe to be mistaken, and which lead to the Government significantly under-representing the level of transport investment in London.
“The Government argues we should only analyse spending within the current spending review period [to 2021]. However, the point of the pipeline is to set out a long-term plan; and this approach becomes more meaningless with each year because fewer and fewer years of data are included as we approach the end of a spending review period.
“The Government also argues that Transport for London’s spending isn’t funded directly by the Department for Transport. However, this is because London has a special business rates deal, which means they keep the business rates they raise, instead of receiving a grant from central Government. This deal not only means central Government effectively still funds TfL, but the arrangement actually gives London an additional spending boost.”
Metro Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said the report makes “embarrassing reading for the Government”.
He said: “In the five years since they first promised us a Northern Powerhouse, the transport spending gap between North and South has widened and is set to get even wider over the next decade.
“So far, Government promises to the North have proved to be about as reliable as our trains. To be fair, the new Prime Minister has recognised our frustration and made new commitments. It is essential that he now backs up his words with action. As Mayor of London, he successfully argued for new funding and powers over transport for the capital. As Prime Minister, he must now deliver exactly the same for the North of England.
“It is time to be clear about what a Northern Powerhouse actually means. It means Whitehall putting the North of England at the front of the queue for transport investment for the next 30 years – in the same way London has been for the last 30 years – and re-prioritising transport spending in this country.
“Anything less will leave the government’s Northern Powerhouse claims as nothing more than a giant political con.”