‘Systematic underfunding’: Jeremy Corbyn slams plans for Northern Powerhouse on visit to Greater Manchester

Jeremy Corbyn has slammed George Osborne’s Northern Powerhouse initiative in an interview with MM.

The Labour leader said that the Chancellor’s plans will not become a reality while the Government is ‘forcing massive cuts’ on cities across the region.

The 66-year-old politician made the claims following Osborne’s Budget on Wednesday.

 “He just set up this word ‘the Northern Powerhouse’ whilst not adequately funding it and that’s my concern,” Corbyn told MM.

“The powers themselves are good but they have to be properly handled, they have to be properly accountable and the services have to be properly funded.

“He has outsourced 97% of the jobs down to London and there is still systematic underfunding of capital investment projects even after yesterday’s projects were put in.”

Corbyn said that the devolution deal, if not executed differently, could lead to greater inequality across public sector services.

“What you have to be very careful about is the Tory government moving services to the responsibility of the local government without adequately funding it,” he said.

“We need similarity in provision of health, criminal justice, the police and so many other powers across the whole of the UK.

“We don’t want people getting a worse health service because they live in place ‘A’ compared to place ‘B’.”

The initiative, which was announced in 2014 at Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry by Osborne, was set up to tackle the north-south economic imbalance.

However, a recent report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation revealed that 10 of the UK’s 12 towns and cities in the greatest economic decline are in the north.

Rochdale, Burnley, Bolton, Blackburn and Hull top the list of places most affected by low employment and population growth.

“There’s already a great deal of health inequality in our society brought about by poverty so you need to reflect that in the funding formula and this Government doesn’t,” Corbyn said.

“It’s managed to find £300million more for English shire counties which are, generally speaking, not the worst off places, whilst forcing massive cuts on every big city which is dealing with social problems.”

The initiative aims to boost the economy by improving transport links between Manchester, Leeds, Hull and Sheffield.

“I welcome that,” said Corbyn on investing in the region’s transport.

“It’s a bit late coming but there has to be much stronger infrastructure otherwise we won’t get the economic development we want.

“Reindustrialisation comes from investment in infrastructure to ensure that goods made can be transported in and out.

“It’s also about investment and supporting innovative industries.”

The Labour leader, on a two day visit to the city from Thursday to Friday, was given a tour of the University of Salford’s Energy House.

The purpose-built terraced house is the only full scale brick-built test facility in a controlled environment in the world.

Researchers can replicate outdoor conditions such as rain, wind and snow at the building.

“We’re here in this wonderful facility at Salford University, there’s fantastic bits of research here and that’s really good,” he said.

“That in turn can, and probably already does, spawn lots of local businesses doing innovative stuff.

“The problem in Britain is its very hard to get funding to expand those businesses.

“The banks often don’t want to know, the green energy bank is being privatised at the present time.

“Our proposal is that we have an national investment bank run on regional lines that will support that and make sure that we develop the manufacturing capacity of a high skill economy all across the UK.”

Video by MM reporter Adam Leah.

Image courtesy of Garry Knight, via Flickr, with thanks.

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