Transport spending ‘unfair on the North’

Huge regional discrepancies in transport spending and shrinking local bus services must be addressed by the Government’s Spending Review, watchdogs warn.

Think tank IPPR North is urging politicians to adopt a fresh and more equal approach to transport spending ahead of the Chancellor’s announcement on Wednesday. Londoners are allocated more money per head (£2,600) on transport spending than all other regions combined and each Londoner is in line to benefit 16 times as much as people living in Yorkshire and the Humber, IPPR said.

Ed Cox, director of IPPR North, said: “Skewed spending benefiting London and the South East is nothing new but as we head towards new announcements at the Spending Review, these figures will strike most people as deeply unfair. Fairness aside, the more fundamental problem is that they will continue to hold back Northern economic prosperity and widen the yawning productivity gap between the capital and the rest of the nation.”

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Beyond the stark regional disparities in transport spending overall, Parliament’s cross-party Environmental Audit Committee claims accessibility to bus services is deteriorating because of tight budgets, reduced services, fare increases and a further concentration of public services.

Joan Walley MP, the committee’s chairman, said: “If the Chancellor cuts funding for bus services this week he will be making life harder for the young adults, pensioners, disabled and rural people that are already disadvantaged
by the poor provision of affordable public transport in this country.”

Rail passengers, meanwhile, are set to benefit from almost £40m of investment by Network Rail to improve the West Coast main line between London and Scotland. Funding is being used for overhead line improvements and new fencing to stop trespassers.

Comment: Page 10.