Workers living in northern England can access far fewer local jobs on public transport than those living in the south, according to a damning new report that will increase pressure on Boris Johnson to deliver on his “levelling up” promise.
Those in the south can access up to seven times as many jobs by bus, train or tram, the report suggests.
The problem is particularly acute around towns in “red wall” areas where the Conservatives won seats for the first time in 2019, the data from centre-right thinktank Onward found.
Tory MPs said it exposed the deep extent of “transport inequalities between regions” that lead to people feeling they have to move away from an area for work, and urged the prime minister to match the rhetoric in his party conference speech with action.
The study uncovered for the first time how many jobs are accessible by car and public transport in every area in the country, shining a light on the “yawning” gap faced by workers depending on where they live.
Towns including Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Bolsover compare badly with towns in London’s hinterland such as Redbridge, Barnet and Epping Forest.
Halifax in Yorkshire and Mansfield in Nottinghamshire also have similar levels of population as Aldershot in Hampshire but using public transport people can reach twice as many jobs within 90 minutes from Aldershot than from Halifax and more than four times as many as from Mansfield.
Aldershot is 30 miles from London, while Halifax and Mansfield are substantially closer to other big cities such as Leeds and Nottingham respectively.
And in some of Britain’s most important regional cities, public transport barely improves access to jobs at all. An hour on public transport in Newcastle and Glasgow boosts job access by a third but in London it quadruples.
James Blagden, a senior Onward researcher who authored the report, 说: “Outside the south of England poor public transport is holding back opportunity and growth. Improving connectivity within city regions and between city centres and outlying towns will be key to the success of levelling up.”
Rob Largan, Tory MP for High Peak in Derbyshire, said that if levelling up were to mean anything it should be about fixing disparities in public transport that affect life chances and employment, 添加: “I sincerely hope the government take this report on board carefully.”
Johnson’s conference speech was criticised by some for lacking in policy, instead only adding tonal flourishes to his plan to “level up” that he promised in 2019.
The Adam Smith Institute called it “substantively bluster and blither” and said the prime minister should have been “focused on the very real crises that are staring his government in the face”.
Richard Holden, the Tory MP for North West Durham, said he and his colleagues were “elected to level up opportunity for people in our overlooked towns and villages” and pressed ministers to help younger people and those on low incomes stay in the places they grew up in.