Andy Burnham hits out at way housing cash is allocated by Government

Mayor Andy Burnham

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has hit out at the way £7bn worth of government funding to support housing has been allocated.

The metro mayor says the system, which has seen the vast bulk of the funding going to affluent areas in the South East, is completely unfair.

A new report from Core Cities UK and the Key Cities Group has pointed out the disparity between North and South.

The two bodies, which between them represent 30 key urban centres across England, Scotland and Wales including Birmingham, Bournemouth, Bristol, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and Salford, have analysed the Government’s announcement that approximately 80% of allocated funds are to be channelled towards areas of “highest affordability pressure”, largely in the South and East of England.

Housing map

Andy Burnham, who spent the day in London talking to potential investors in the region, said: “I am still trying to give the government the benefit of the doubt on its promises of a Northern Powerhouse but this map makes it very difficult.

“It is simply indefensible to shovel billions of pounds of public money into the more affluent areas when all parts of England are facing a housing crisis. The fact that only three areas north of the M62 will receive any benefit at all says everything.

“Such a skewed distribution of public money is demonstrably unfair and unacceptable. It overlooks the huge economic potential of the North of England and the Midlands, as well as several Southern English cities and coastal towns, and will fuel the economy where it is already strongest.

“Right now, the government should be working hard to bring our country back together rather than widening its economic and social divides. We need policies that will rebalance our economy and that are fair to people everywhere. That’s why this policy cannot go unchallenged and I call on the government to think again.”

Core Cities UK and the Key Cities Group have published a colour-coded map which demonstrates in stark terms the imbalance of the funding proposal, with only three areas north of the M62 in receipt of significant investment.

Only four Local Authority areas in the North of England – and none in the North East – qualify for priority funding.

Twenty towns, cities and other urban centres belong to the Key Cities Group, with locations as geographically diverse as Blackpool and Bournemouth, Southampton to Sunderland.

The mayor has also been working on launching Greater Manchester’s Local Industrial Strategy in recent weeks.

This plan, which will be co-owned by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and the Government, will inform future working and cooperation with government ministers and their departments.

The GMCA wants business leaders, the voluntary and social enterprise sector and residents to help co-design the plan ahead of publication early next year.

Andy Burnham said: “Good jobs, a skilled workforce and supporting businesses to thrive are key to a successful Greater Manchester that drives prosperity and productivity – and that is what this plan is about.

“Our city-region is renowned for doing things differently, boasting a proud history of being a social and economic pioneer.

“We want to work with businesses and local people from the ground up, so together we can develop a plan that builds on our industrial and creative heritage, creates opportunities for people to get on, and gives young people a sense of hope. That’s why I encourage businesses and communities to get involved and help shape this plan.”