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Study warns over imbalance of infrastructure investment

The imbalance in transport infrastructure investment between London and the rest of England is "set to get even worse", a study has warned.

More than half (54%) of spending on the country's transport networks is going to the capital, according to analysis by think-tank IPPR North.

Some £1,943 is being spent per person in London on current or planned projects compared with just £427 in the North, researchers found.

The report warned that organisations such as the National Infrastructure Commission and Transport for the North have insufficient investment powers and called for the launch of northern infrastructure bonds to raise capital.

Its author, IPPR North researcher Grace Blakeley, said the spending gap between London and the North "remains huge" - but stressed "this is about more than money".

She went on: "The North needs to take back control over transport spending to sensibly invest in a range of northern infrastructure projects to unlock more potential."

The report stated that "chronic public under-investment" is the root cause of problems with the road and rail networks in the North.

It cited Transport for London as an example of a public sector body that has successfully used borrowing to finance infrastructure projects.

The capital's new east-west rail line Crossrail will alone cost £4.7 billion from 2016/17, whereas the total for every transport project in the North is £6.6 billion.

But North West England does appear to be benefiting from the Northern Powerhouse project, with investment of £680 per head - more than any English region outside London.

This is due to "long-term projects finally coming to fruition" such as improving the north-west quadrant of the M60 motorway and the Northern Hub rail scheme, which could be the precursor for an east-west HS3 high-speed rail line, the report stated.

The figures are based on a Government list of national infrastructure projects with public or public/private funding that are either under construction or planned.

IPPR North director Ed Cox said: " There is a long, long way to go to rebalance the UK but these figures suggest we're seeing the green shoots of the Northern Powerhouse idea being more than mere bluster.

"We must however make more progress like this if we want to see spades in the ground any time soon."

The report stated that between 2011/12 and 2015/16 public spending on transport in the capital averaged £725 per head compared to £352 across the country.

"This imbalance looks set to get even worse," the study concluded.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: "We are investing £13 billion to improve transport across the North to improve journeys for local people, help industry grow and boost productivity.

"Transport for the North is working with councils to develop a Northern Transport Strategy, to benefit the region as a whole."

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