Transport spending 'skewed towards London'

Canary Wharf Crossrail station Crossrail is one of the biggest infrastructure investments in London

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The government spends more money on transport projects for Londoners than on those for the rest of the country combined, a think tank says.

The Institute for Public Policy Research North says £2,700 is spent per person in London compared with £5 per head in the north-east of England.

In a report out this week IPPR North says there is a "sharp disparity".

The government says its investment strategy is to maximise economic benefits for the country as a whole.

'Deeply unfair'

Ed Cox, Director of IPPR North, said: "Skewed spending benefiting London and the south-east is nothing new but these new figures are truly shocking and will strike most people as deeply unfair."

The BBC's Transport Correspondent Richard Lister says the report claims the infrastructure strategy is "entrenching the North-South divide".

IPPR North says almost half of the 20 biggest taxpayer-funded transport projects benefit only London and the south-east.


  • London - £2,731
  • South-east of England - £792
  • East Midlands - £311
  • West Midlands - £269
  • Yorkshire and Humberside - £201
  • North-west of England - £134
  • Eastern England - £43
  • South-west of England - £19
  • North-east of England - £5

The Department for Transport said London is a global capital which supports a large number of commuters and it points out the government had recently approved additional investment of £1.4bn in transport schemes outside London.

But analysis by IPPR North shows almost half of major transport projects involving public funding benefit only London and the south-east, accounting for 84% of planned spending.

IPPR North says the "cost benefit analysis" equation currently used to decide where investment is targeted is wrong and that lack of spending constrains growth in the north of England.

Mr Cox conceded that much of the spending in London was due to the Olympics but he added: "If the government continue to use a system that reinforces the dominance of London and the south-east we'll all be worse-off in the long-run as the south becomes more congested while the north continues to fall behind in terms of growth."

IPPR North has called for a review of all future infrastructure projects ahead of the 2014 Spending Review.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    This is yet another example (along with the ridiculous olympics and the bankers) of how the flabby underbelly that is London syphons off wealth from the rest of the country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    I'm incredulous, aghast, stunned & astonished!. Spending skewed towards London? We've known this for years. Lottery money to the Brighouse & Rastrick Brass Band.............or a capital arts project or opera? To be skewed even more by the London Olympics? And blaming the Tories for this inequality? Presumably there was a huge swing in spending when Labour left power? No, I didn't think so.

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    In 2002 the metro in Prague was flooded to street level. It was rebuilt in one year!! Why so slow here?"

    Probably because in Prague they did not bother with armies of consultants and advisors, diversity and H&S co-ordinators, assorted box-tickers, etc. They just got on and did the job, a concept now lost in the UK where even making a footpath takes 3 years minimum.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    Got to agree with our south eastern friends. its all about demographics and busniess need, after all it generates the majority of country wealth, and probably the spend is greatest too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    Duh, of course. London is the economic heart of the UK. It doesn't really matter as much if a nan can get a bus in rural Wales to buy some biscuits does it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    So someone else has noticed. Up north we have the oldest trains in the country (the dreaded Pacers which were introduced in early '80s as a 'stop-gap' measure), insufficient carriages (the trans-pennine trains running from Newcastle to Manchester via Leeds have just THREE carriages) and we will have to wait, ooh, twenty years for the area's electrification to be actually completed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    London has the greatest population density and also Londoners are paying for the Olympics more than any other part of the country, despite the fact that the rest of the country is going to get the benefit from the Olympic legacy. Let's look at both sides, shall we?

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    Take the Manchester Metrolink as an example. After years of government delays in approving the funding (resulting in costs rising from £500M to £800M) they finally agreed to fund £500M of it after a massive campaign by local media and politicians. The rest of the cost is covered by higher local taxes. Now compare that cost to the London Olympics, £9Billion. Which leaves the biggest legacy?

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    Just one more example of the majority subsidising the minority, should we be suprised?

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    This is news?

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    "The problem is legislation forcing councils to spend a certain amount raised in traffic fines on road works...

    Oh, I don't think that IS "the problem", you know.

    "The problem" is the instinctive prejudice of the Government against any faction of society that it's not cosied up with it to support its own biased agendas.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    I only wish the BBC and others would stop including the South East in their London reports.
    Contrary to popular belief,we in the South East get very little out of any government scheme,in fact we are the first to suffer cuts when they happen.

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    The rest of the country does not want 'another supermarket creating 100 more (poorly paid, part time, little prospect) jobs over the coming 2 years', they want 'real' work now. London is more productive, because London has more work. (check the % of population in work in London). With the recession in full swing I wouldn't put too much faith in retail to save the country. No money to spend !

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    Can those of us north of Birmingham have our own North of England Parliament and government just like Wales and Scotland? A bit of common sense might prevail then!

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    This article is awful, where is any detail so we can make our own minds up? Is this capital expenditure or revenue support for fares? Over what period was this measured? The West Coast upgrade spent billions for years while Crossrail and Thameslink were shelved.
    Also much of the work in London is to allow people in the rest of the country to travel through to other places not for Londoners.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    There are approximately 8 million people who live in Greater London.
    Only 5 million in Scotland. It seems logical that such a high population density in one area needs money spent on transport. Factor in also all the tourists and then the Olympics.
    I live in Scotland, I am Scottish but even I can see London has a good claim to the money being spent on its transport system .

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    18. John

    Why should Londoners not pay the full cost of their travel? The level of tax on the fuel I put in my car to enable me to go to work is ridiculous when you get your fares subsidised.

    Comparing Public transport fares in London with fares outside London is totally invalid because for a great many of us, public transport is either non-existant or too infrequent to be of any use.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    Nice to see the bbc has its finger on the button. We knew this years ago and it has never changed. Try doing a little journalism bbc - you never know it might just drag you out of the gutter.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    The cost is probably due to the "engineering works" which have for years closed the Underground at the weekend. The system became dilapidated. The problem is, even the Jubilee and DLR, which are new lines, needed work as well. So were these new lines poorly constructed in the first place? In 2002 the metro in Prague was flooded to street level. It was rebuilt in one year!! Why so slow here?

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    "Incomplete & potentially biased reporting. This refers to spending on PROJECTS"

    So what? Why on earth should a Londoner get 546 times more spent on transport projects than is spent on me?


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