Labour says Government using Northern Powerhouse as '˜a vacuous slogan'

Labour MPs have accused the Chancellor of using the Northern Powerhouse as '˜a vacuous slogan'.

Tuesday, 11th December 2018, 2:43 pm
Updated Tuesday, 11th December 2018, 2:50 pm
Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis

Catherine McKinnell , MP for Newcastle North, said the model was failing to channel funds to northern infrastructure projects as it was intended to - and suggested things could get worse after Brexit.

Former shadow attorney general Ms McKinnell said a report from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) think tank showed public spending in the north had fallen by £6.3 billion since 2009/10, whereas spending in the south had risen by £3.2 billion in the same period.

Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis

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Speaking during Treasury questions, she added: "Does this not demonstrate that the Northern Powerhouse is nothing but a vacuous slogan and what does he assess will be the infrastructure funding available once we leave the EU?"

Chancellor Philip Hammond rejected the figures she had given, claiming they were '˜consistently given and consistently wrong' and urging her to consult the Infrastructure Projects Authority.

He said: "The problem with the IPPR is it needs to look at central government funding to the regions - when you look at central government funding you will see a very different figure."

Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis conceded comparing regional funding was '˜not a simple matter' but stressed '˜the criteria used do tend to favour infrastructure development in the south rather than the north'.

Mr Jarvis, who is also the Mayor of Sheffield, said: "What more can the Government do to support major infrastructure development, particularly when it comes to transport projects in the north of England?"

Mr Hammond said he did not accept the claim made by Mr Jarvis, but offered to meet him to run though the funding formula to demonstrate its fairness.

"I just reject his accusation here," he said. "The methodology we use is designed to be fair and equitable in the distribution of infrastructure funding.

"If he would like to meet me I'm very happy to go through the whole issue as we're as concerned as he is to make sure infrastructure decisions are made on a transparent and equitable basis."