Spend as much on the North as London if you want to Level Up UK, demands Tory MP

·3-min read
Jake Berry (Danny Lawson/PA) (PA Archive)
Jake Berry (Danny Lawson/PA) (PA Archive)

A Conservative MP has slammed the levels of spending on public services in the North of England compared to London.

Speaking about devolution plans for the North, Jake Berry said the Government’s spending in the area compared with London is "not fair" and "not right".

“If we just spent the same on transport in the North as we have in the South and London over the last 10 years, we would have seen £66billion initially invested in our transport network.

“It’s not fair. It’s not right. You can’t level up without long-term funding and that’s what we’re calling for,” the Conservative MP for Rossendale and Darwen in the North West told Times Radio.

"We want big pivots, putting vocational skills on the same level of academic skills, we want devo-max.

"We will always talk about taking back control, but it seems like we beg control from Government and never get it, so we want a presumption in favour of powers being passed out to areas including powers to drive down taxes in our local areas to encourage business.

"The final thing is we want a levelling up formula which would be a bit like the Barnett Formula, because you can’t level up the country when you have a 15 per cent higher spend as against the Government national average in London than in other areas.”

London receives more public spending per person than any other area, according to Treasury figures.

The White Paper to transform “Britain’s forgotten communities” sets out 12 missions underpinned by a Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, which will aim to spread opportunity more evenly by 2030.

It includes plans to regenerate 20 towns and cities with Wolverhampton and Sheffield the first to be chosen.

The Government is seeking to roll out the “largest devolution of power from Whitehall to local leaders across England in modern times” offering more areas the chance to elect mayors and have “London-style” devolution deals.

New money for the arts will be 100 per cent focused on areas outside London while new investment in housing and education will predominantly be targeted at the rest of the country.

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said the priority was to level up across the country.

He previously told Sky News: “There’s inequality in London and you are absolutely right, Tower Hamlets, Barking and Dagenham, they need support as well and the Government is working with the Mayor of London to do that. But one of the big problems in this country is the geographical inequality.

“At the moment we are relying on the jet propulsion from London and the South-East. It’s great that in London we have an amazing global city. It’s great that the South-East and East of England have so many productive companies.

“But the rest of the UK is not firing as energetically as it should economically. That’s denying people in the North and the Midlands the opportunities they need.”

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