CUMBRIA'S leaders have hit back after a recent study revealed spending cuts in the North to be far greater than in any other region.

While total public spending in the North has fallen by £6.3 billion since 2009/10, the South East and South West has seen a £3.2 billion rise, according to think-tank IPPR North.

Their State Of The North 2018 report urges northern political leaders to push the Northern Powerhouse agenda amid the distraction of "Westminster Brexit chaos".

The Northern Powerhouse was an idea launched five years ago by then chancellor George Osborne to increase the productivity of city-regions in the North thereby spreading wealth and opportunity.

Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock said: “It is fairly Orwellian for the government to claim that the north is thriving when the facts say otherwise.

“There are pockets of shocking poverty across Furness and life expectancy in Barrow remains below the national average. Transport chaos leaves us isolated and costs thousands of working hours every year.

"We have some of the most technically skilled engineering jobs, yet in five of Barrow’s inner wards, 45 per cent of households are without a single person in work.

"The government and the Northern Powerhouse must step up its game, and fix this huge discrepancy between the north and south.”

Cllr James Airey said: "It is vital that we move forward with Devolution and local Government reform here in Cumbria. The current model of six District Councils all pulling in different directions plus a rudderless County Council is a Disaster. The Government needs to step in and force change. This needs to happen quickly so that we can make the most of the opportunities around the Northern Powerhouse and Borderlands deal.

Rob Johnston, Chief Executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “Given that the Government pledged to rebalance the economy, championing the Northern Powerhouse, IPPR North’s findings are disappointing.

“The North isn’t getting a fair deal. Take transport as an example. Bus services in London are subsidised to the tune of £600m a year, which means services there are frequent and cheap. Buses in Cumbria receive no subsidies at all. How can that be right?"