London-North spending gap doubles despite Boris Johnson’s ‘levelling’ pledge
The public spending gap between London and the North has doubled since Boris Johnson came to power, despite his promise to ‘level’ the country, new figures show.
The capital has leapfrogged England’s poorest region in terms of money handed out by the government – proving that ‘the money just hasn’t kept up with the rhetoric’, according to the think tank behind the report. ‘to analyse.
The data also shows that, three years after the Prime Minister stood outside No 10 and pledged to level the nation, public spending in the North is now below the England average .
Labor said the findings were ‘outrageous’, but the UK’s regional inequalities barely figured in the Tory leadership race, which was instead dominated by talk of tax cuts and policies immigration radicals.
IPPR North, who carried out the study, warned Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak that the “votes lent to their party” in the 2019 election cannot be taken for granted if the leveling promise is doomed.
“If candidates hope to serve longer than their recent predecessors, they should listen to the North and make harnessing the region’s significant potential their personal priority,” said Ryan Swift, researcher for the think tank.
A spokesman for the Northern Research Group (NRG) of Tory MPs said the analysis highlighted “the biggest problem facing our new Prime Minister”.
“We were elected with a mandate to upgrade the whole of the UK, and that’s what we need to do,” the influential group said. “The NRG is pleased that both candidates have signed our pledges, which means they are fully committed to a leveling fund, a minister for the North and greater devolution.”
Lisa Nandy, the shadow leveling up secretary, said: “These numbers are outrageous. Despite all the Tories’ promises to northerners, regional inequalities have worsened since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister. And now the two continuity candidates who are stepping down to replace him are vying for the role of Margaret Thatcher.
And Clive Betts, the chairman of the Commons Leveling Committee, said: ‘I am very disappointed but not surprised by these numbers. The problem is that there is no real commitment to spend the necessary money on the areas that need improvement.
In 2019, the North received £13,884 per person, above the English average of £13,648, according to IPPR North’s analysis of data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
But by 2021 its per capita spending of £16,223 had fallen below the English average of £16,309 – despite Mr Johnson’s high-profile pledge to save areas left behind.
Meanwhile, London’s share of the pot has risen from £15,397 to £19,231, widening the spending gap from £1,513 per person to £3,008, the figures show.
“On public spending, the money just hasn’t kept up with the leveling rhetoric,” said Marcus Johns, another researcher at IPPR North, a branch of the Institute for Research on Public Policy.
The criticism will fuel fears the upgrade will flounder even before its champion leaves No.10 in September, kicked out by Partygate and the Chris Pincher groping scandal.
It has been undermined by the Treasury’s refusal to commit to additional spending despite the number of ‘red wall’ Tories occupying vulnerable marginal seats in the North and Midlands.
Meanwhile, as The Independent Revealed, at least £2billion has been cut from development funding in the poorest areas following the government’s breach of its commitment to match EU spending lost to Brexit.
Deprived of additional funding, then-leveling secretary Michael Gove unveiled 12 “missions”, which have been criticized for being vague, unambitious or impossible to measure, although the bill aimed to “enshrine them in the law was hailed as proof that the goals – to improve wages, jobs, transport connectivity and other indicators in less prosperous areas – had real teeth.
It then emerged that Mr Gove was quietly granting his department the power to drop key tests to find out if the strategy was working if he was able to argue that they were ‘no longer appropriate’.
IPPR North has now analyzed ONS data, covering both service and investment spending, to uncover the true picture of spending since Mr Johnson made his pledge.
The ‘North’ covers three regions – the North East, the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber – which are seen as the center of the commitment to scaling up. Over the two-year period from 2019 to 2021, public spending per person in the North fell from £246 more than the English average to £86 less.
The lowest percentage increase was in the North East (16%), while the lowest per capita government spending in 2021 was in Yorkshire and the Humber (£15,540).
IPPR North also removed from its analysis the huge sums spent on fighting the Covid pandemic, but found that the situation remained largely the same.
On this measure, the gap between North and London has increased by almost 80%, from £1,081 per person to £1,937.
Mr Johns added: “While an increase in public spending in 2019 was welcome and absolutely essential, spending is weaker and has grown more slowly in the North than in other parts of the country. In the same Over time, the country has become more centralized and inequalities have widened, because power is not distributed fairly in this country.
Mr Swift added: “Our analysis suggests the upgrade was, in many ways, business as usual. But that must change.
A spokesman for the Department of Leveling, Housing and Communities said: ‘We do not recognize these numbers and are continuing to level the North at full steam.