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Government rejects claims of transport spending ‘regional imbalance’

The Transport Committee has urged the DfT to “be more specific about the economic rebalancing effects it intends to achieve” in regards to regions of the UK – such as the north east and south west – which have experienced “relative underinvestment in recent periods.”

The committee argued that “decision-making processes and systems of scheme appraisal currently work against regions in need of regeneration, and they do not believe they are getting their fair share.”

Although the government welcomed the committee’s acknowledgment of the challenges in assessing regional benefit versus regional spend in transport (rail in particular), it rejected the claim that its scheme appraisal methods are not providing a “fair share.”

The DfT added: “Government considers that its appraisal approaches are able to accommodate the main sources of benefit from investment and do not work against regions in need of regeneration.”

The government did, however, accept the “challenges” surrounding regional regeneration, adding that the Rebalancing Toolkit it launched last year ensures “rebalancing impacts of proposals are considered more consistently in scheme strategic cases.”

Additionally, the DfT said that, according to a regional breakdown in ‘The National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline 2017’ published by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority, planned central government spending on transport infrastructure per head over the four years from 2017-18 to 2020-21 is within 33% of the national average for all nine English regions.

The overall figure for the north westnorth east and Yorkshire & Humber is £1,039 per head, compared to £1,076 per head for the East of England, East Midlands and West Midlands, and £1,029 per head for London, the south east and south west.

Finally, the department noted that it included within its Transport Investment Strategy “a principle that decisions should be made at the appropriate level of geography and should reflect local needs and priorities.”

It added that its Rebalancing Toolkit is open to review and comment, and that given the lag effect of its use in investment decision, the government is considering when it will be the appropriate time to approach reviewing it and its effects.

Top image: omersukrugoksu via iStock 


Imbalance in regional rail spending and investment in the north of England’s railways will be discussed extensively at this year’s TransCityRail North. Don’t miss your chance to attend, visit the website here.


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