North-East infrastructure spending is the lowest in England

Spending on infrastructure is £5,426 per head in London, £223 per head in the North-East

Spending on infrastructure is £5,426 per head in London, £223 per head in the North-East

First published in Business News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by

THE North-East receives less public spending per head on infrastructure than any other English region, according to a think tank, which has launched a drive to boost regional road and rail links.

For every £1 spent on improvements to roads, railways, flood defences and high speed broadband in the North-East, £25 is ploughed into London, a new IPPR North report shows.

London gets ten times the amount spent in Yorkshire, and more than all of the other English regions combined.

Campaigners fear the north is being left in the slow lane with substandard roads, railways and internet connections.

NECC Policy and Research Manager, Mark Stephenson, said: "If the Government is serious about rebalancing the economy and realising the undoubted potential that lies within the region then more must be done to enable spending in the North East specifically to catch-up with other regions, and not necessarily just those in the South East.

"Last year NECC and a number of our regional partners including CBI and Northumbria Water presented the Government with a list of transport priorities that would help the North East become more competitive and deliver more for UK PLC. This resulted in the Government pledging one of the most comprehensive programmes of infrastructure upgrades in generations, including a motorway link from Tyneside to the capital and work to address major congestion pinch points on our road network.

"What we need to see now is rapid and decisive action across those projects to enable us to become more competitive and fully utilise our major international gateways."

IPPR said that the regional imbalances in infrastructure spending are the result of London having big, expensive projects such as the £15bn Crossrail scheme, which aims to make life easier for commuters.

The average value of infrastructure projects in London is more than £1.2bn compared to £83m in the North- East.

Earlier this week northern councils, including Newcastle, Leeds and York, asked George Osborne to approve a £15bn to revamp transport infrastructure and help the north compete with London. The Chancellor voiced support for the proposals, but made no firm commitment.

Ed Cox, the director of IPPR North, said: “Effective infrastructure is the bedrock of an effective and efficient economy. Transport connections, flood defences and high-speed broadband networks all allow people and goods to move quickly from place to place and for business to flourish.

“It is widely recognised that the North of England loses out as government spending on infrastructure is continuously skewed towards London.”

IPPR North is running a competition to find new projects which address existing and future infrastructure needs of the North of England. The Great North Plan competition is looking for ideas to rival major infrastructure schemes which currently exist in London and the South-East.

The competition will be open to people aged 25 or under and there will be a £1000 prize for the winning entry.

“If the North is to compete with Crossrail and the other major investments that are tilting the infrastructure balance firmly in London’s favour, then it must come up with a set of projects which show ambition. This is why IPPR North has launched the Great North Plan competition. Through the competition we hope to identify a small number of large-scale infrastructure projects that could have a transformative effect on the northern, and national, economy.

IPPR North analysis shows infrastructure spending per head, where public money is involved, is:

• £5,426 London

• £1,248 North West

• £614 East of England

• £581 Yorkshire & the Humber

• £502 South East

• £474 South West

• £438 East Midlands

• £389 West Midlands

• £223 North East

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