Close £15bn funding gap for Yorkshire's cities, Jeremy Hunt urged

Better transport, housing and infrastructure could lead to a £15 billion funding boost to Yorkshire’s cities, new research has suggested.

Analysis by the Inclusive Growth Commission (ICG) found that the insufficient investment in the country’s regional cities has left a “growth gap” of £44 billion across the UK.

If addressed this could see residents in Yorkshire’s major cities enjoy gains of as much as £9,500 per person.

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It argued that if either the Conservatives or Labour are “serious about growing the economy” then this gap must be tackled at next week’s budget and in the first fiscal event by the winning party at the next election.

It called for three main proposals to be taken forward, including the introduction of “Regionally Significant Infrastructure Projects” to allow combined authorities to push through important infrastructure more quickly and effectively.

This would be complemented by an equivalent of the Office for Budget Responsibility that deals specifically with infrastructure, giving an official verdict on projects which could be expanded to include housing.

In addition, the UK should abandon the green belt found around the country’s cities and towns, and take an approach seen in cities such as Copenhagen, the group argued.

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Tom Lees, Chair of the Inclusive Growth Commission said: “The UK is virtually unprecedented in the size of its ‘growth gap’ and how far behind its regional cities are versus the capital.

“If this gap is closed it could mean an extra £11,000 for each resident of Glasgow, £8,000 for every person in Leeds and over £6,000 for people in Manchester. Tacking this growth gap

must be the top priority for the government and any future Labour government.”

Jason Millett, Deputy CEO, Mace: “The delivery of good quality infrastructure is essential to ensuring economic growth in the UK.

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“We must work together to improve how we fund and deliver major infrastructure projects right across the country.”

The IGC includes organisations including Forth Ports, Manchester Airports Group, CBRE, Mace, the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre plus trade associations such as Make UK and the Association of British Insurers.