Call to devolve £15bn in transport funding to the North

5 Mar 15

Billions of pounds should be devolved to the North of England to rebalance the economy and revitalise the region’s creaking transport network, according to IPPR North.

The think-tank is calling on Chancellor George Osborne to use his last Budget of the Parliament to give a £15bn package to local authorities ‘to make the Northern powerhouse a reality’.

IPPR North said the money would be spent on the ‘One North’ infrastructure priorities to improve rail and road links between the cities that drive the Northern economy – Newcastle, Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield.

Its Transport for the North report sets out a blueprint for the region to take more control over transport through the creation of a Transport for the North body, emulating Transport for London in the capital.

It claimed that total planned spend per resident on transport infrastructure from 2014/15 onwards was £3,095 for London, but much lower for the northern regions: £395 in Yorkshire & the Humber, £460 in the North West and £263 in the North East.

A Transport for the North body would help redress these disproportionately low levels of investment. It should issue a 10-year blueprint and appoint a transport commissioner for the North as well as moving towards a contactless ticketing system and managing its own rail franchise.

IPPR North director Ed Cox said such a body could be at the ‘vanguard of a coherent economic plan’ to fire up the Northern powerhouse.

‘What we now need to see is the warm words on Northern growth translated into firm commitments to make this vision for a modern transport network a reality. An initial investment is needed, but this is about the North shaping its destiny through devolution of powers.’

In the 2014 Autumn Statement, Osborne underlined the government’s commitment to the ‘Northern powerhouse’ and stated that plans for the High Speed 3 rail link would be drawn up by March 2015.

The regions that make up the TfN partnership and the Department for Transport are also developing a northern transport strategy. IPPR North said its broad objectives will also be outlined later this month and a full strategy published by 2016.

  • Judith Ugwumadu

    Judith Ugwumadu joined Public Finance International and Public Finance online as a reporter after stints at Financial Adviser, Global Security Finance and The Sunday Express. Currently, she writes about public finance, public services and economics.

    Follow her on @JudithUgwumadu_

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