Public spending in the north has fallen below the English average despite the government’s flagship policy of ‘leveling’
Public spending in the north of England is lower than the rest of the country, according to a new analysis published by leading think tank IPPR North.
This goes against what Prime Minister Boris Johnson proposed to the country three years ago in his “leveling” agenda, in which he promised to “unleash the productive power … from every corner of England” – not just in London and the South East.
Although public spending has increased in all regions of the country under Mr Johnson’s tenure, IPPR North research shows that the North has fallen behind and is now receiving less public spending per person.
Ryan Swift, Research Associate at IPPR North, said: “Our analysis suggests that leveling up was in many ways business as usual. But that has to change.”
He told Mazic News, “I think a lot of people from these regions who voted Conservative for the first time in 2019 are going to feel let down and let down.
“People want to see the reality that matches the rhetoric. The government needs to start delivering financial benefits and improving people’s lives.”
“Power is not shared fairly in this country”
Marcus Johns, who is also a research fellow at the leading think tank, said in a statement: “On public spending, the money just didn’t follow the alignment rhetoric.
“Although an increase in public spending in 2019 was welcome and absolutely necessary, spending in the north is lower and growing more slowly than in other parts of the country.”
He continued: “The country became more centralized and inequalities increased. Because power is not distributed fairly in this country.
“Regions like the North deserve no less than the tools they need to improve themselves – it’s a sensible way of governing and quite normal in less unequal countries. But that hasn’t happened here at the required level by a long shot.”
How much is spent in the north
In 2021, the latest available data, total public spending for the North was £16,223 per person.
This represents a 17% increase since 2019 but is below the national average of £16,309.
London saw the highest public spending at £19,231 per person, up 25% since 2019.
It also means that the spending gap between the north and the country’s capital has doubled over the two-year period, going from a difference of £1,513 per person to a difference of £3,008 per person.
The region with the lowest public spending was Yorkshire and Humber at £15,540 per person and the lowest percentage growth was in the North East, where there was a 16% increase.
Mr Swift told Mazic News that these disparities in spending between regions impact a range of services, particularly transportation and research development, and also impact people’s daily lives, particularly around education and health.
Earlier this year, an investigation by Mazic News found billions of pounds had been cut by councils in England – which at the time IPPR said was disproportionately affecting local governments in the North.
Referring to IPPR’s new analysis of public spending, when researchers removed Covid support spending from the picture, the numbers told a similar story.
The North received £11,505 per person for public spending, while London received £13,442 per person.
The national average was £11,524 per person, up 3% since 2019.
Excluding Covid support spending, the gap between the North and London reportedly widened by almost 80% – from a difference of £1,081 per person to a disparity of £1,937.
Once again, the region with the lowest spending per person was Yorkshire and Humber (£11,049 per person), while the North West (1%) saw the smallest increase in this scenario.
“The next prime minister has to go much further”
IPPR North has said it is crucial that the country’s next prime minister, whoever that may be, addresses the country’s widening divisions and invests in the North’s future.
Mr Johns said: “Candidates for the post of next Prime Minister should commit to delivering where their predecessors have not.
“Reverse cuts to local government and proposed transportation projects, strengthen the Leveling Up Bill to make it transformative law, and seize opportunities and future-proof the economy.”
Mr Swift continued: “The next Prime Minister will set foot on Downing Street in 2019 because of the votes many in the North and Midlands have cast in their party. Government has not yet delivered for the people in these communities, so the next Prime Minister will have to go much further to unleash prosperity in the North.
“If candidates hope to serve longer than their recent predecessors, they should listen to the North and make unlocking the region’s significant potential a personal priority.”