A coalition of northern businesses is urging the government to make a revolutionary funding commitment in the upcoming Autumn Statement and devolve northern transport powers without delay.
In the Unlocking Growth in the North report published this week, law firm Addleshaw Goddard, engineering consultancy Atkins and financial services provider Grant Thornton said spending commitments in the North per person should exceed those of London over the next decade.
According to figures from thinktank IPPR North, current government spending on transport is more than six times greater per head in London and the South East than in the North, a gap of £1,600 per person. This is despite the northern economic area being larger than London, with 15.1M residents, as opposed to 8.7M.
The report – which is backed by several leading businesses across the North including Drax Power, Siemens UK, Hitachi Rail Europe and Amey – calls for the full and swift devolution of powers matched with the funding commitments required to help transport commissioners make key decisions for transport infrastructure in the North.
The report also appeals for the existing roadmap towards transport devolution to be strengthened and expedited.
“The North’s performance has been severely hampered by a major shortfall in investment,” said Addleshaw Goddard partner Paul Hirst. “It is clear that that underinvestment has damaged growth in the UK economy and it is time this damage is undone and that spending in the North is greater, for a period, to unleash the North’s economic potential.”
“Like the many organisations involved in producing this report, the Northern Powerhouse recognises this region’s vast potential. For too long, a lack of powers and chronic under-funding in transport have held the North back. In post-Brexit Britain this needs to change. That’s why we’re calling on the government to use this Autumn Statement to revolutionise northern transport by swiftly devolving statutory powers and injecting the necessary funding to unlock growth in the North.”