A ‘Northern Budget’ can deliver infrastructure boost

Leaders from across the North of England have urged the government to commit to a ‘Northern Budget’ in order to deliver a boost to the region’s economic fortunes.

Backed by members of Transport for the North’s Board, the call asks the government to deliver on commitments previously promised as part of the Northern Powerhouse agenda, just days after the Chancellor announced a fast-tracked spending round for government departments for the next year.

The commitments are based around three core asks, calling for the North of England to get the bare essential in better transport infrastructure in the short, medium and long-term. They are: a commitment to a £7 billion Northern Infrastructure Pipeline; a commitment to build the full £39 billion Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) network by 2040; and a commitment to £1 billion for Transport for the North over the next three years to deliver on its vision, including funding for the development of Northern Powerhouse Rail and other road and rail schemes.

Barry White, chief executive of Transport for the North, said: “The North is now at the top of the national political agenda, with promises to balance out the UK’s economy and unleash our potential by better connecting our towns and cities. We now need a Northern Budget to make both the shovel-ready projects and the ambitious longer-term programmes like Northern Powerhouse Rail a reality.

“Closing the productivity gap between North and South is essential if we’re to compete on a global stage – but the North’s constrained by creaking infrastructure. These are the minimum requirements needed to overturn the underinvestment, under different governments, stretching back decades. It’ll ensure the North becomes greater than the sum of its parts and will get the UK firing on all cylinders.

“Whilst the government is planning for a one-year spending round for its departments against a Brexit backdrop, there is no reason why we can’t see real commitment and recognition of the ambitious pipeline of infrastructure investments the North so badly needs.”