Transport 'funding shift' exposed

Coin being taken from a stack

A ‘funding shift’ briefing, published today, by pteg, shows that although the government as a whole sees big cities as key to economic growth, whenever decisions are taken on how funding should be allocated, the Department for Transport (and other Government departments) are moving funding from Britain’s largest urban areas to either rural areas, or to the London mega-region.

This includes:

  • The Integrated Transport Block funding review (reform options would cut funding for the Metropolitan areas by ten per cent)
  • Major capital schemes (funding share for Metropolitan areas reduced and due to fall further)
  • Growing Places fund (biggest share goes to London and the South East mega region)

The briefing also highlights that one of the few major funding blocks that the Department of Transport has not reviewed (road maintenance funding) was the one funding block that was already most heavily skewed to rural areas. The decision not to review the formula for road maintenance funding was reached by a review group essentially composed of Shire Counties which met twice and decided that the status quo should remain.

pteg Director, Jonathan Bray, said;

‘We welcome both the Government’s commitment to funding major schemes in our areas, and the Government’s wider focus on cities as key to wider economic growth. However, the fact is that whenever it comes to determining how available funding for transport is to be divided up, the largest urban areas outside London lose out – time and time again. Either with funding being diverted to the London mega-region, or through funding being diverted to uncongested rural areas. The next big decision on funding allocation will be on the Integrated Transport Block. The options for change in the consultation would mean the cities, again, losing out on the funding they need to battle the congestion that is holding some of the UK’s largest local economies back.’

Jonathan Bray added:

‘Meanwhile the block of funding which is most obviously biased to rural areas (the road maintenance funding block is based largely on miles of road rather than intensity of use) hasn’t been subject to any meaningful review. It’s time there were more connections made within Whitehall between the very welcome words on our largest cities’ importance to the economy, and the way in which decisions are taken on funding allocations. It seems that the memo on the importance of cities to the UK’s growth prospects just isn’t getting to all the right people when key decisions are taken on whether transport funding is spent in congested powerhouse city region economies or in quiet market towns. With HS2 on the way it’s more important than ever that cities get adequate funding to ensure that local transport networks are ‘HS2’ ready and can cope with the massive implications of the biggest re-writing of the long distance rail network since it was built.’


For more contact Jonathan Bray on 0781 804 1485 / 0113 251 7445

The evidence base on investing in urban transport can be found - all in one place - at