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Still on the wrong track: An updated analysis of transport infrastructure spending

IPPR North, finance, regional issues, transport

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Author(s):  Ed Cox, Bill Davies
Published date:  24 Jun 2013
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This report updates On the wrong track, a report of December 2011, to highlight the stark and persistent imbalance between public infrastructure spending between the greater south east, including London, and the northern regions, especially in the major spending area of transport infrastructure.

For instance, where transport infrastructure projects involve public sector spending (solely or in partnership with the private sector), the spend per head of population is £2,595.68 in London but just £5.01 per head in the North East.

As well as updating the forecast spending data of the original report, Still on the wrong track addresses some of the frequent criticisms of this form of analysis of infrastructure spending plans, based on the project pipeline under the National Infrastructure Plan.

It also makes recommendations for improving the detail and presentation of national infrastructure spending information, and proposes three grounding principles for capital spending commitments announced in the upcoming spending review:

  1. Existing appraisal processes should place greater emphasis on the wider economic benefits that might be derived through public investment in key infrastructure projects outside London rather than more the more narrowly defined user benefits that tend to disadvantage the regions.
  2. Extra capacity and resource should be dedicated by Network Rail, the Environment Agency and other agencies involved so that they can work more proactively to bring forward infrastructure projects outside London and the South East, however big or small.
  3. As far as possible, capital spending should be devolved to local authorities and transport agencies, along with arrangements to allow greater scope to leverage private investment.

Our people

Ed Cox, Director, IPPR North

Bill Davies, Researcher, IPPR North


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Financial Times - 24 Jun 2013

London gets 520 times more transport cash than the North
Independent on Sunday - 24 Jun 2013