Bob Kerslake Crop
The UK2070 Commission is chaired by Sir Bob Kerslake, who was appointed as chair of the Stockport Mayoral Development Corporation in January

Northern Powerhouse and HS2 ‘insufficient’ to level up regions

Sarah Townsend

Major infrastructure projects such as High Speed 2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail are unlikely to level up the North West and curb growing regional divides, according to a report to be launched in Salford this week.

The HS2 rail project, which was given the go-ahead in the House of Commons this month, and the proposed Northern Powerhouse rail network in the North of England, are “unlikely to take benefits beyond city centres to help the more deprived areas”, the report by the UK2070 Commission is expected to say.

The study will note that the UK has one of the world’s highest levels of regional economic inequality, ranking 28th out of a list of 30 nations, above only Slovakia and Ireland, according to The Sunday Times.

The final stage of a two-year inquiry into city and regional inequalities in the UK, which has included a review of policy and spatial issues impeding regional economic development, the report is to be launched in Salford this Thursday and lay bare the challenges facing government and others in “levelling up” the regions.

The UK2070 Commission was established in October 2018 by a partnership between the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, the University of Manchester, the University of Sheffield and University College London, with support from other bodies.

The group is chaired by Lord Kerslake, chair of the independent Centre for Public Scrutiny, president of the Local Government Association, and, as of this January, chairman of Stockport Mayoral Development Corporation.

A former head of the civil service, Bob Kerslake previously led the Department for Communities & Local Government and was the first chief executive of the Homes & Communities Agency, now Homes England.

The UK2070 commission published its stage one report last May, highlighting policy issues regarding economic inequality across the UK.

The final report to be published on Thursday, called ‘Make No Little Plans’, warns that projects including HS2, with an estimated cost of £106bn, will only benefit large cities unless local transport links are also upgraded. Lobby groups including Transport for the North have already called on the Government to take into account the potential benefits to and impact on regional transport schemes, in its latest planned review of the controversial rail scheme.

The report’s findings are expected to intensify pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who pledged to “level up” the regions after winning many Labour seats in last year’s general election.

Your Comments

Read our comments policy here

Well this is no surprise. While HS2 & NPR are essential to relieve congestion on the mainlines, allowing local traffic to improve and also provide faster links to the region, that alone couldn’t solve the north/south divide. It’s everything else the south get that we don’t such as proper local transport (most cities across Europe the size of Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Liverpool etc have proper underground metro networks), allowing councils to fund their areas better so we can have proper maintenence on roads, drainage, parks etc and this is before we start talking about the cultural side of things – how a city as large as Manchester has such small museums and galleries.


Conservatives do not need to listen to the “Red Wall” constituencies. Labour is not able to be a credible opposition with the way they are conducting themselves and drifting further from the centre. The North will see nothing but sound-bites. The level of investment required will never be realised unless we devolve in a proper way. It is taking back control from London that is the priority now.

By Not Sarah

I live in North west area of Lancashire/Pendle/Colne
our Tory M.P. Andrew Stephenson as delivered Nothing of our Transport needs here in this area–And Boris see fit to give him Transport Minister job + the running of H.S.2
that will never come our way but we are as taxpayer inthis area are exspected to pay for H.S.2 WHY if we will not benifit from it ,–Tory Govt + Boris + Cumming + my Tor yM.P.will reply to my on thiS matter now what are they hidding for us public now about H.S.2 mess???

By Roy Jenkins

Sir Bob Kerslake! The Lord Kerslake please.

By Bob the Builder

To level up the North with London and the South East I believe it is essential to construct the MTR/Metro promised by NPR in the Leeds-Bradford, Greater Manchester and the Liverpool Regions. Improving the connectivity of the outlying towns with the large regional centres will be a game changer to free up commercial investment and improve employment opportunities, job flexibility and productivity to match that in London and the South East.

By Clive Broadhead

It goes much deeper than transport. Education and skills have lagged behind the South East for decades – no thanks to useless bodies such as the Skills Funding Agency who still employ a bums on seats approach to learning. This in turn has a detrimental effect on attracting enough employers to the area with well-paid jobs. A vicious circle then keeps perpetuating itself.

By John Smith

I don’t think that it is so much a North/South thing but a Better off/Less well off thing. Why does Trafford have better schools than Tameside? Why are health outcomes better in Saddleworth than they are in Failsworth? It is all about resources. Education plays a huge part in it as John Smith says but the uselessness so many people in deprived areas feel fosters the attitude of, “What is the point?”London’s dominance has been manufactured by Westminster. Even when the North and Midlands were economic powerhouses their money was still filtered down to projects in the capital. This explains why our other great cities do not have proper transport infrastructure. A city of Manchester’s wealth in the nineteenth century would surely have been able to afford an Underground so where did all that money go? If Devolution had existed then it would have been a different Britain now.

By Elephant