London gets more than twice as much money as the north for transport, report reveals

IPPR North claims that disparity in transport spending will continue to hold back the north and the country as a whole, after the think tank’s latest research found that the government will invest £4,155 per person on transport in London, compared to just £1,600 in the north - a gap of £2,555 per person.

The findings, published by IPPR North today, provide a stark contrast between the south and the north when it comes to transport funding. The organisation claims the disparity should cause "should be significant concern" among road and rail users. While Londoners on average can expect to receive over £4,000 per head on transport up to 2020/21, people in Yorkshire and the Humber and the north east of the country are set to receive £844 and £855 per person respectively.

Senior research fellow at IPPR North, Luke Raikes, said: “Despite the transport secretary’s recent statements, London is still set to receive almost three times more transport investment per person than the north. This is indefensible. The north has been underfunded in comparison to London for decades, and our figures demonstrate that ministers have failed to redress this imbalance. This failure will continue to hold back the North and the country until the government acts. The government is making Transport for the north a statutory body but it must give it similar powers to Transport for London so that it can encourage business investment and borrow for its own infrastructure instead of going cap in hand to central government.”

Transport secretary Chris Grayling has recently come under fire for cancelling three electrification projects in Wales, the midlands and the north, while supporting a new £30bn Crossrail 2 scheme in London and the south east just days after the three programmes were axed or downgraded. On Monday, (22 January) Grayling told the transport committee that spending “£500m to enable the same trains to travel on the same track, at the same speed isn't a terribly good use of taxpayers' money."

Commenting on the research, Labour’s shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said: “This shows that the government’s claims are unfounded and the Tories’ record on transport spending in the north remains abysmal. In the last year, the Tories clipped the wings of Transport for the North by refusing it any meaningful powers, scrapped long-promised rail electrification and failed to match Labour’s commitment of at least £10bn of investment to build a Crossrail for the north to link our great northern regions. With its misleading statistics, it's clear that this government won’t be upfront about the scale of its underinvestment in the north.”

IPPR North’s calculations are based on analysis of data from the Treasury and the government’s Infrastructure and Projects Authority. The government’s own breakdown of the figures suggests there is a relatively even spending pattern across regions, with £1,353 per person in north west England compared with £1,026 in London. But the think tank claims that this interpretation could be “misleading”, highlighting that less than half of planned spending is included.

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