Cuts hit North hardest

5 December 2018, 06:11 | Updated: 5 December 2018, 06:13

blackpool tower

The North has been hit hardest by cuts in public spending while the South has seen an increase in government money, according to an in-depth study.

While total public spending in the North has fallen by £6.3 billion since 2009/10, more than any other region, the South East and South West has seen a £3.2 billion rise, according to think-tank IPPR North.

Their State Of The North 2018 report, running to 64 pages and covering the North East, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber regions, home to 15 million people, urges northern political leaders to push the Northern Powerhouse agenda amid the distraction of "Westminster Brexit chaos".

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said the report showed the "irrefutable case" it was time the North was at the front of the queue for public money.

The IPPR report shows weekly pay has fallen by £21 in the North since 2008 in real terms, while two million working-age adults and a million children live in poverty.

The North has also lost 300,00 government jobs since the peak in 2009 and eight of the 10 worst-hit police forces are in the North.

On transport, London has received twice as much transport spending per head than the UK average or the north over the last decade, while London received 41.1% of all Arts Council England national portfolio grant funding in the 2018-22 programme.

And many of the neighbourhoods with the lowest life expectancy are found in the north, including Salford, Bradford, Sefton and Sunderland and the neighbourhood with the lowest male life expectancy in England is in Blackpool, 68, compared to the England average of 79.

The Northern Powerhouse was an idea launched five years ago by then chancellor George Osborne, focused on core cities, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Newcastle and Sheffield, to increase the productivity of city-regions thereby spreading wealth and opportunity.

At the same time the Government was committed to bringing the deficit down by cutting public spending.

This year's annual IPPR North report says a new phase of the plan should aim for more devolution, putting more power in the hands of city mayors, support job creation and investment and focus also on towns and rural areas.

Director of IPPR North, Sarah Longlands said: "The North has started to see the impacts of the Northern Powerhouse agenda most noticeably with the elected mayors, the growing recognition of the North's external profile and the creation of Transport for the North.

"However too many of the North's people and places are yet to feel the benefits.

"Many families depend upon precarious and poorly paid jobs and levels of healthy life expectancy in many areas constrain the opportunities of people to play an active role in their local economy.

"Now is the time to develop the Northern Powerhouse agenda in to a plan which works for the people of the North providing them with opportunities to share in the potential economic opportunities of the future."

Mr Burnham said: "This Government promised us a Northern Powerhouse and Northern Leaders stand ready to work with them to close the North-South divide which pervades right across public spending, poverty rates and life expectancy.

"But, almost five years after the Government promised us a Northern Powerhouse, we learn that public spending in the North has fallen while rising in the South.

"This has got to stop and it is time that the North came to the front of the queue for public investment."

The Government responded to the report, saying the North was "thriving" with a record number of people in work.

A spokesman added: "Never before has it had such a powerful local voice, following the election of four new metro mayors, and a fifth on the way, who we have empowered to champion their communities and build on this success.

"We are also backing the whole of the Northern Powerhouse with £3.4 billion to boost local economic growth and a record £13 billion in transport improvements, meaning almost £250 per person - more than any other region - will be invested next year to help commuters and motorists across the North."