Growing the whole north is crucial to the delivery of our northern powerhouse. Since the northern powerhouse strategy was launched, direct foreign investment in the north has increased at a rate double that of the national average, and unemployment throughout the north is now lower than the national average.
I thank the Minister for his response and extend to the new Secretary of State an invitation to come to Shields and explain to my constituents why, when the Government launched the northern powerhouse four years ago, they promised increased growth and increased employment, yet in the time since, growth in Shields has been painfully slow and unemployment stubbornly remains higher than in the rest of the north-east.
I am a bit more optimistic for the north-east than the hon. Lady, because we are now entering a new golden era for the north-east, which can be seen in the Government’s commitment of more than £300 million—[Interruption.] Does the hon. Lady want to hear about what we are doing for the north-east? That new golden era can be seen in the Government’s commitment of more than £300 million to the Tyne and Wear metro, which the hon. Lady campaigned for, and in the historic devolution deal north of the Tyne. On top of that, this summer the first great exhibition in this country for 160 years will take place in Newcastle-Gateshead, showing that the north-east is at the heart of our northern powerhouse.
We are already investing some £67 million in the Humber and the Greater Lincolnshire local enterprise partnership, and I note that £20 million of that is going into my hon. Friend’s constituency. He will be aware that we committed in the industrial strategy to work on a business case for a Grimsby and Cleethorpes town deal. I hope that, in demonstrating that success, we can put our northern power towns at the heart of the northern powerhouse.
There is no surprise that the lived experience of people in Shields is of growth not happening, because when the northern powerhouse was launched in 2014, Government capital spending per person was £543 higher in London than in the north-east. London has seen its investment increase to £1,352 per person but, instead of the Government’s closing the gap, the north-east saw a cut in capital spending that increased the gap by 17% to £634 per person. How can the Government credibly claim to be the champions of the northern powerhouse when the evidence says that the money has not followed?
I am certainly not going to take any lectures on the northern powerhouse from the hon. Gentleman, because after his election he described it as the “northern poorhouse”. Unlike Opposition Members, the Government are behind the north, not least by investing £13 billion in northern transport—more than any Government in history, including the Labour Government.