Transport spending 'skewed towards London'

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

Related Stories

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.


More on This Story

Related Stories


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    There is merit in what you say Helen, but taking your criteria as a yard stick do you really think the percentages per capita are fair.? Of course the capital city needs a modern transport infrastructure, but by your own figures 8 M compared with 5M surely the disparity is out of proportion. If money is to be allocated in direct response to income, Aberdeens bypass should be paid by estminster NOW

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    Money is invested in London transportation to retain and attract jobs. This logic should be extended to the rest of the country. I travel a lot and frequently go through Coventry. There is a good network of roads around Coventry but they are falling to pieces. Also HST2 should run alongside current lines going north so that Milton Keynes, Northampton, Birmingham and Manchester are connected.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    Icebloo @ 4
    "Why is this a surprise ? We have a Tory government. The Tories only ever spend money and time on London. This is nothing new - Thatcher and Major did the same thing. They only care about London and the money people in London."

    And I suppose the clowns who were in power from 1997-2010 didn't?

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    I live in the NE and have some sympathy with JANINE. It IS more expensive to live in London. If you don't beliebve me go and live there and try going out for a few beers and then a meal. Transport fares are crazy unless you have an oyster card and house prices or rents are astronomical. Me ? I am quite happy on the right side of the North/South divide thank you

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    An obvious point here; although transport spending is skewed towards London, London is still a net exporter of tax. This implies that while we gain in transport we lose in other spending (e.g. social security). This 'extra' money London gets is just Londoners' money recycled via the national government.
    Of course, that doesn't mean we shouldn't be spending more on transport elsewhere.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    I have used transport systems all over the country and nowhere are they less reliable than in London. Every time I make an important journey in London I have to allow an extra hour for delays, cancellations, lack of availability of staff... the list of excuses is endless.
    Too many people and a system that has had too little investment for too long.

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    I live in the countryside on the other side of the country from the capital. Yet, public transport here is fine. What are people moaning about? Of course it'll be a dark day on the sun when I use it again since I've been driving for the past four years but you'd think people would want a golden private aircraft to travel to the post office the way they complain about everything.

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    "The government spends more money on transport projects for Londoners than on those for the rest of the country combined"

    Maybe so, but Londoners also appear to be paying for the privilege far more than the rest of the country combined!

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    Has anyone considered that with London being the most visited city in the world (check Wiki), the transport money spent per head on Londoners is not simply for their own needs but also to serve the 14 million international (and 27 million overnight stay) visitors it receives each year? Where would the tourism industry be with a rubbish transport system?

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    What do you expect from a Tory administration?

    We in the North are always hammered by this set of clowns.
    same old tories, same old lies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    No surprise almost everything is "London Skewed" It's the capital city with horrendous traffic and transport infrastructure problems and is currently hobbled by a strange and profligate mayor. It needs some investment to enable a more functional and integrated transport system/strategy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    re: Janine, nothing is cheap in the North! in the local area around Manchester to go one stop on the bus is £1.90, a 10 minute peak time return tram journey is £5.90, that is when the trams are running because it's either to hot or to cold! Don't assume we have it better in the North just because you have been to Warrington for a visit, you should try living here!

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    The glaringly obvious point to be made, here, is that transport spending in London doesn't just benefit local residents. It's all the people who commute in to work every day, tourists, students, visitors to theatres and galleries, people travelling through to other destinations, and the rest. Yes, the disproportionate spending in the capital is grossly unfair, but your figures are misleading.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    having lived in both the North East and London I'd say the 'balance' of 32.700 to £5 is about right.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    Can someone tell me why it costs tens of millions of pounds to build a 2 mile bypass round a country town?

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    So a dedicated thinktank for the North of England is moaning about government money being spent in the South of England. Who would of thought it?

    Is this really news BBC?

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    For £5 what do the folks in the North East get? One roller skate?

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.


    The problem is, a nan in rural wales probably CAN'T get a bus for biscuits!

    Govt money is for the good of all, not just for the privileged few...

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    It fascinates me how excited everyone gets about this North/South divide! We live in London, have a mortgage that we can't afford, most expensive transport known to mankind, pay through the nose for supermarket shopping, petrol etc. We live here because its where my family live but when we visit my partners family up in Warrington, I can't believe how cheap everything is. So please don't worry..

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    HELEN_of_TROY - clearly the Transport Spending 'Per Head of Population' is lost on you then!


Page 14 of 17



Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.