Barnsley East MP Stephanie Peacock has marked the five-year anniversary of the day the Government’s much-vaunted ‘Northern Powerhouse’ project was announced by labelling the initiative an ‘abject failure’.
The project formed part of the Government’s plans to boost the lagging Northern economy by investing in transport, skills and business.
However, half a decade after the announcement, recent research suggest that results have fallen short of the promises made by former Chancellor George Osborne.
New independent analysis by the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) North has outlined some improvements, such as the devolution of some powers through the creation of “metro mayors”, but suggests that the project has overwhelmingly failed to have the intended impact.
Amongst their findings, IPPR North states that the project has proceeded amidst £3.6bn cut from public spending in the North since 2010, compared to £4.7bn rise in the South East and the South West.
Despite promises on transport funding, increases on per person spending on transport in the North (£149) was less than half of that experienced in London (£330).
The number of cancelled and late trains in the North has more than doubled from 20,000 in 2014/15 to 47,000 in 2018/19.
Meanwhile, the think tank has stated that 200,000 more northern children are living in a poor household, meaning there are 800,000 children living in poverty in the North.
According to answers given by the Government to parliamentary questions submitted by Barnsley MP Peacock, show the percentage of people earning either the national minimum wage or the national living wage in South Yorkshire and the Humber are higher than the UK average.
The Government also stated that there are an estimated 5,500 workers in Barnsley currently earning this wage.
Said Peacock: “As we’ve come to expect from this Government, affluent areas in the South and London continue to prosper whilst the North and towns in it, like Barnsley, are neglected.
“What started as a raft of bold promises about addressing generational inequality has proved to be an abject failure, and many places in the North have been left even worse off.
“Missed targets and token gestures for good PR by the Tories just won’t cut it anymore – places like Barnsley deserve proper investment and an effective industrial strategy that properly addresses the neglect we’ve experienced for too long.”