Transport infrastructure in some parts of the UK may get left behind under the new system to be used from next year (2015) to share out central government money for local major transport schemes (1), warn MPs on the Transport Committee.
Launching the report of an inquiry that looked closely at the new arrangements for local decisions on transport spending from 2015, Louise Ellman MP, Chair of the Committee, said today:
"Far less money is spent on transport projects outside London than in the capital. This inequality has gone on for too long and has to change.
For example, IPPR (Institute for Public Policy Research) says that transport infrastructure spending is £2,500 per head in London compared with £5 per head in the north east (2). Even on the Government's figures, transport spending per head in London is more than twice that in the English regions.
The Government has again changed the system for distributing money to local areas for major transport projects, with much more emphasis now on competition for funding. This will not necessarily help regions get a fairer share of transport funding and could make the situation worse.
Those Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) which are well organised and resourced will have an advantage in bidding for funds. Other areas may lose out as a result.
In addition, with greater reliance on competitive bidding for funds, we will see more money wasted on failed bids.
The Government's focus on using competition to bring in private sector funding for projects could disadvantage the regions, where there tends to be less private sector money available compared with London.
DfT must also make sure that strategically significant schemes such as access to ports don't get overlooked and that areas covered by a number of Local Enterprise Partnerships do not miss out because of fragmentation.
It is also unclear whether the £6 billion the DFT is contributing to the Single Local Growth Fund (3) will all be used for transport purposes."
Efficient and Effective
The Committee calls for the new funding arrangements to be reviewed by the end of the next Parliament to ensure that they are efficient and effective in providing funding for the most urgent transport priorities.
1. Costing over £5 million
2. On the wrong track: an analysis of the autumn statement announcements on transport infrastructure, IPPR North, Dec 11.
3. 2015/16 – 2020/21.