Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced almost £7bn for transport in city regions ahead of the Spending Review this week, but all of the cash appears to be based on previous commitments.
Despite the chancellor suggesting that around £1.5bn was 'new money', previous Treasury announcements in the summer suggest this cash is simply being transferred from well-established, existing local funding.
The Treasury has confirmed that the majority of the £6.9bn funding announced over the weekend is comprised of the five-year £5.7bn City Region Sustainable Transport Settlements (CRSTS), which have been increased from an initial £4.2bn proposed.
This 'new fund' dates back to an announcement made in 2019 that eight eligible English city regions would receive £4.2bn of additional funding for local transport networks.
On top of the £5.7bn, the Government added £1.2bn of funding for buses, which is part of £3bn committed by the Prime Minister - itself a cut from an earlier £5bn figure mooted for bus and cycling infrastructure.
Is it new, new money?
Even the promised £1.5bn of new money seems to have already been announced and part of a transfer of existing cash allocations.
In a CRSTS announcement in August, the Government said: 'We intend to do more and to go further [than the initial £4.2bn]. We will also add sums equivalent to current annual funding, for the Integrated Transport Block (ITB) and Highways Maintenance funding, including the Potholes Action Fund.'
The aim of transferring this money to 'be part of the same fund', was to:
- simplify the funding landscape
- move towards greater consolidation of funding streams
- allow city regions much more flexibility to decide and develop long-term strategies that integrate all their local transport priorities
Based on allocations of these funds for 2021-2022 for the eight city regions included in the CRSTS, the annual amount would be worth roughly £246.2m, making the five year allocation in the same ballpark as the £1.5bn 'additional funding' claimed by the chancellor.
This is particularly the case given that funding for local road maintenance was cut by £400m in 2021-22, according to the Local Government Association.
Another controversial aspect of the funding announcement was that it only covered seven of the eight regions the CRSTS was supposed to target, leaving the North East Combined Authority, which unlike others does not have an elected mayor, in the cold.
The Treasury's recent announcement allocated: Greater Manchester (£1.07bn), West Yorkshire (£830m), South Yorkshire (£570m), West Midlands (£1.05bn), Tees Valley (£310m), West of England (£540m) and Liverpool City Region (£710m).
A source at NECA told Transport Network the snub had 'been noticed' but so far there has been no comment from the combined authority.
The Treasury declined to comment ahead of the Spending Review on Wednesday.
Where the money is going:
Greater Manchester £1.07bn
- Next generation Metrolink tram-train vehicles
- New bus corridors and interchanges in Ashton-Under-Lyne and Bury.
- Creating a 140-mile active travel network across Greater Manchester
South Yorkshire £570m
- Starting Supertram renewal
- Bus priority expansions via signalised junctions using real time detection
- Bus and Active Travel priority corridors, incl. the development of a “Dutch style” roundabout in Barnsley Town Centre.
West Yorkshire £830m
- West Bradford-Cycle Superhighway Extension
- Improving the A61 between Wakefield and Leeds for buses, cyclists and pedestrians, and giving buses greater priority in Wakefield
- An enhanced electric vehicle programme in Kirklees, including the provision of charging on residential streets
Liverpool City Region £710m
- Battery packs for new Merseyrail trains to expand the reach of the existing network
- New and rejuvenated stations in Liverpool and Runcorn
- A multimodal interchange in St Helens to link housing, employment and developable land
Tees Valley £310m
- Upgrades to Darlington and Middlesbrough stations, improving rail links through the Tees Valley
- A programme of bus corridor improvements, strengthening public transport links between towns, including Redcar to Middlesbrough
- Creating new, safe active travel links from Redcar Town Centre and South Bank to Teesworks, providing better sustainable access to a major employment site.
West Midlands £1,05bn
- Metro extension, including the completion of the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill extension (2023)
- New Transit Stations for ultra-rapid electric vehicle charging
- Completion of Sprint Phase 2 bus rapid transit across Birmingham, Solihull and the Black Country
West of England £540m
- A4 corridor improvements, including a fully prioritised bus route between Bristol and Bath
- Improving links from the Somer Valley into both Bath (A367) and Bristol (A37)
- Improved pedestrian and cycling access across Bath including in Cheap Street/Westgate Street and Kingsmead Square.