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Lack of public transport keeps wages down in parts of Norfolk, claims new taskforce of MPs

PUBLISHED: 12:20 07 September 2020 | UPDATED: 12:20 07 September 2020

The issue was raised during Prime Ministers Questions by North West Norfolk MP James Wild   Picture: Denise Bradley

The issue was raised during Prime Ministers Questions by North West Norfolk MP James Wild Picture: Denise Bradley

Archant

People living in parts of Norfolk with “sparse” public transport earn from £600 - £1,300 less than the national average.

The claim comes from a 40-strong taskforce of MPs formed to push the government to deliver on its pledge to “level up” deprived communities.

It includes James Wild, who represents North West Norfolk. Announcing he had joined the group on social media, he said: “This is an important agenda and I’ll continue working so that North West Norfolk benefits from investment in better connectivity, infrastructure and skills to help boost opportunity, growth and incomes.”

He later added: “My reason for joining the taskforce is to make sure that the views of North West Norfolk and Norfolk are represented and not just the northern seats.

“There’s lots of different people in similar areas who have similar interests here. Coastal areas are a particular issue where there are challenges in education and opportunities. There’s a lot to do here.”

The Levelling Up Taskforce’s manifesto, published on the Conservativehome website, says: “Transport improvements might make a bigger difference for remote areas.

“The Office for National Statistics defines certain places as “sparse” - the north of Devon and Cornwall, most of central Wales, Shropshire and Herefordshire, most of Cumbria and the rural north east, along with large parts of North Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and North Norfolk.

“In these places income levels are 17 - 18pc lower. Even controlling for the qualifications and age of people living there, these sparse areas have income levels between £600 - £1,300 a year lower, likely driven by poor connectivity.”

The group is urging the government to commit itself to three tests. It says earnings should rise more quickly in areas of the country which have seen the lowest growth, areas with the highest unemployment should catch up with the national average and the government should also publish research into how tax and spending changes impact different areas.

Founder Neil O’Brien, MP for Harborough in Leicestershire, said: “We’ve got to deliver. So let’s hold ourselves to account, and set ourselves some ambitious goals.”


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