More than half the spending on England’s transport network is going to London with the imbalance set to get worse, according to a report by Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR).
The report Paying for Our Progress, published this week by IPPR North, reveals that whilst £1,943 is being spent per head in London on current or planned transport projects only £190 is being spent in Yorkshire, £220 in the North East and £680 in the North West £680.
The report calls for Transport for the North (TfN) to be given TfL-style powers to raise finance on international capital markets for northern transport projects and for the National Infrastructure Commission to be given greater powers to set a more regionally balanced infrastructure programme.
Other recommendations include the launch of northern infrastructure bonds to raise capital, further fiscal devolution and new funding in next month’s Budget for northern infrastructure projects which would lever local taxes and private sector finance.
The think tank points to TfN’s £7.3m M60 improvement plan as one project that could benefit from this proposed new funding and cites TfL as an example of a public sector body that has successfully used borrowing to finance infrastructure projects.
It also points out that London’s new east-west rail line Crossrail will cost £4.7bn from 2016/17, compared to the total for every transport project in the North of England, which is £6.6bn.
Report author Grace Blakeley said: “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 report acknowledges that the level of funding in the North West, at £680 a head, indicates that the Northern Powerhouse project is beginning to bring benefits to the region.
These include improvements to the north-west quadrant of the M60 motorway and the Northern Hub rail scheme.
However IPPR North director Ed Cox said: “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 if we want to see spades in the ground anytime soon.”