Chancellor’s pledge for Northern transport spending is ’empty rhetoric’

In his Spending Review Sajid Javid vowed to ‘rebuild our national infrastructure’ but think tank IPPR says there is ‘no proper plan or funding’. Tony McDonough reports

Sajid Javid
Chancellor Sajid Javid delivers his Spending Review to the House of Commons

 

Chancellor Sajid Javid’s pledge to spend billions more on Northern transport infrastructure is just “empty rhetoric” with too few details, a leading think tank says.

In his Spending Review on Wednesday afternoon, Mr Javid told MPs in the House of Commons: “The first priority of our new economic plan will be to rebuild our national infrastructure.”

He added the Government had already committed to spend £13bn on better transport connections for the North of England and repeated Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s pledge that it would find a high-speed rail link between Leeds and Manchester.

However, the left-leaning think tank tank IPPR North, claimed there was “no proper plan or funding” to match the Chancellor’s claims, adding it would not believe Government promises until they see “spades in the ground”.

Transport for the North, as well as many business and political leaders in Merseyside and across the North, say investment in both a high speed rail line across the North from Liverpool to Hull, costing £39bn, and HS2 linking North to South, was essential to close the productivity gap with London.

In the Liverpool city region there is a strong desire to see investment in extra rail capacity to maximise the potential of the £750m Liverpool2 container terminal at the Port of Liverpool.

Luke Raikes, senior research fellow at IPPR North, said: “The Government simply repeated a vague promise to invest in Northern transport, and has presented no plan or funding to do so. The Government’s rhetoric on the North is a long way from the reality on the ground.

Since the Government first started talking about the Northern Powerhouse, the number of delayed and cancelled trains in the North has doubled. Meanwhile transport spending per person on London has increased by twice as much as in the North.”

And Arianna Giovannini, IPPR North’s interim director, added:The Government can’t expect people to believe the promises they’ve made to the North until they see spades in the ground, and transformational northern infrastructure taking shape.

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