MPs have urged the Government to define the “levelling-up” agenda so its effectiveness can be assessed.
A report by the Commons Transport Select Committee said the Government “assumes” that infrastructure investment can reduce regional inequalities in the UK.
But the “levelling-up” concept is “not supported by detailed metrics or a clear definition”, the committee stated.
That must change for it to amount to “more than rhetoric”, the report warned.
“To allow Parliament and the public to judge the effectiveness of the Government’s infrastructure plans, the Government must publish detailed metrics that define and measure the ‘levelling-up’ concept.”
The committee said the Department for Transport failed to explain how major transport projects can support the policy.
It noted that several schemes have exceeded cost and time estimates, such as HS2 and Crossrail.
The report also urged officials to prioritise projects which support connectivity, growth and productivity.
Tory MP Huw Merriman, who chairs the committee, said: “Successive governments have struggled to deliver major transport infrastructure to time and budget.
“It’s clear that the project management and delivery of these projects could be substantially improved.
“Too many projects start out with early political announcements but no clear view of the finish line. As a consequence, many overrun on time and budget without sufficient accountability.
“We see the benefit of a UK-wide infrastructure programme – we want the public to share that view, too. Government must set out the definition and metrics by which success will be defined.”
He added: “If levelling up amounts to more than rhetoric, then it requires definition and metrics.”