The Budget: The reaction in the North West

Today's budget had a number of significant announcements for funding in the North West.

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak had promised to "level-up" transport and infrastructure for the North and also promised to pledge money to tackle economic uncertainty posed by the coronavirus outbreak.

Business leaders have welcomed many of the measures announced by the Chancellor, one calling it a "box office Budget".

But unions were more critical, saying the extra spending announced did not compensate for the years of cuts and under-investment, especially in public services.

Today’s announcements for the North West include:

  • £40 million for Preston City Region to deliver a new station at Cottam Parkway on the Preston-Blackpool line.

  • £28.2 million flood defence funding to better protect over 12,500 properties across Fleetwood, Southport and Manchester.

  • A share of £100 million seed funding from the Health Infrastructure Plan for Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust and University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust.

  • A five-year transport settlement for Greater Manchester and Liverpool City Region Combined Authorities starting in 2022-23 which could fund a range of local public transport, cycling and road upgrades.

  • International Trade advisers focused on the Northern Powerhouse to provide personalised support to exporters in these regions.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, said: "We will level up the North West with better transport connections and a cash boost to unlock thousands of homes across Manchester and South Lancaster.”

The Chancellor also announced a package of measures to tackle the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on the UK economy, with the Government providing additional funding, support for public services and vulnerable people and reducing the costs for businesses.

The region's Metro-Mayor's, Steve Rotherham and Andy Burnham, welcomed the extra funding for the North West, but said that more needed to be done.

Steve Rotherham, Liverpool City-Region Mayor, said: "After months of lobbying we were successful in securing a share of £4.2 billion for transport to build the London-style transport integrated system we need, a share of £400 million for development on brownfield land and further investment in FE colleges."

He added: "Extra support to tackle the Coronavirus is welcome, but it comes on the back of the decade of austerity that has been endured by our NHS and councils.

"In many ways, this was an admission of failure for a decade of under-investment in our public services and the brutal human impact it has had."

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: "Today’s Budget has made a start on levelling up the North but in truth, it is only a start.

"Ministers have made a lot of promises to people here over recent months but what has been announced today does not live up to the rhetoric.

"The Government will need to up its game in the Spending Review later this year if, as the Chancellor might say, they are really going to get the Northern Powerhouse done."

Amongst the announcements welcomed was a promise of £1billion to remove unsafe cladding from high-rise buildings.

This announcement comes after groups in Greater Manchester lobbied the government to increase the funding for people affected by cladding on high-rise buildings.

Jonathan Carr-West, Chief Executive of Local Government information Unit, said: "This budget was dominated by the Government’s response to coronavirus. No one could argue with that, but for local government it provides more questions than answers.

"Social care has been all but absent in response to Covid-19.

"Hospitals will not be able to cope if large numbers of older sufferers cannot be discharged because of a lack of social care provision and social care providers will not be able to cope if a fifth of their already stretched workforce is off sick.

"This could create a dangerous and vicious circle."

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