Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has criticised the lack of spending in the north of England, saying that the “north-south divide has got even bigger”.
His comments come as a report by think-tank IPPR North, part of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), found public spending in the north of England has fallen by £6.3 billion since 2009-10, while spending in the south has risen by £3.2 billion in the same period.
“Remember being told we were all in it together?” Mr Burnham said.
“This comes at a time when the north of England was promised a northern powerhouse.
“I’m still ready to work with them to build it, but we can’t continue on this basis where public spending is being cut in the north while rising in the south. The north-south divide, I’m afraid, has got even bigger.”
'Shovelling money into London'
Julia Hartley-Brewer asked whether it was inevitable more money would go to the south. “Isn’t spending in London and the south east always going to be higher, because the cost of living is higher?” she asked.
“If you always follow that logic though, the country will never be back together because you’ll always be shovelling more money into London and the south east,” Mr Burnham replied.
He added that this would come “at the expense of many places who voted Leave in the referendum because they felt very disillusioned at the way things were.”
Growth in the north was also stunted by lack of investment in infrastructure, said Mr Burnham.
“We can’t get as much economic growth as the south because we don’t have a functioning rail system, we haven’t seen investment in infrastructure over decades we’ve seen in London and the south east,” he said.
“The figures that the IPPR have published today show that from today, transport spending will rise 2.5 times higher in London and the south.
“We would say, ‘look, Crossrail hasn’t even opened yet and already it’s overrunning’.
“We are waiting patiently for the rail service we were promised. I think it’s time we can to the front of the queue, and I think fair-minded people would agree with that.”
He added that he did not feel any ill will towards London, but wanted funds to allocated in a fairer way. “I don’t have an anti-London agenda, I want to see it do well, but not completely at the expense of everywhere else,” he said.
“If you allocate public funding in that way you will never correct the north-south divide.”