Economic gap between UK cities 'widening'

Empty shops in Hull Cities such as Hull would find it more challenging in a weak economy

The gap between the relative economic performances of towns and cities across the UK is widening, a report has said.

The difference between the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance in Hull and in Cambridge has nearly doubled since the start of 2008.

Six times as many are claiming in some parts of Rochdale as in Cambridge.

Research group Centre for Cities said the private sector's struggle to create enough jobs to aid growth was "playing out very differently across UK cities".

The gap in the claimant count rate between Hull and Cambridge had increased from 3.2% in February 2008 to 6.1% in November 2011, the report said.

Meanwhile, the area of Rochdale with the highest number of claimants had 30.3% of people on the benefit, while the area of Cambridge with the highest rate was 5.0%.

The report said that towns and cities with less dynamic private sectors, such as Hull, Doncaster and Newport, would find it more challenging to offset the weak national economy and the ongoing shrinkage of the public sector.

'Tailored policy'

It said cities that had performed well, such as Edinburgh, Cambridge and London, all had strong private sectors, and high numbers of skilled residents and "knowledge workers" - those who work in professions such as law, accountancy and finance.

Cambridge Cities that had performed well had high numbers of skilled residents

It highlighted Milton Keynes and Aberdeen as well placed to drive the national economic recovery, as they had seen a large number of business start-ups and were highly innovative, with significant numbers of patents registered.

Last week, official figures showed the UK's unemployment rate had risen to the highest level for 16 years.

"The gap between cities is widening," said Alexandra Jones, chief executive of Centre for Cities.

"This makes it vital that government policy is tailored to meet the needs of each city rather than one-size-fits-all. What is right for Brighton and Reading will not be right for Dundee and Middlesbrough."

The Local Government Association (LGA) said the report highlighted the differences in how towns and cities were dealing with the tough economic climate.

"Councils strongly support the premise that government policy must be tailored to meet the needs of each individual city," said Peter Box, chairman of the LGA's economy and transport board.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 422.

    Old towns developed via local capabilities but they were often based on a single activity and the world left them behind. Low skilled public sector jobs were just another single industry. New jobs need new skills and infrastructure but the future must be a far more mixed economic model, the problem is how to make that happen fast enough, moving people about is not the answer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 322.

    We're a small Island, only 500 miles from one end to the other - I can't think of any single country which bases virtually it's entire economy within such a minute area of it's landmass & yet in the UK we've done this for decades. London isn't even as accessable as many other parts of the UK, with its congested roads & high cost of living.

  • rate this

    Comment number 237.

    It's a little short-sighted to concentrate so much in one area, as it will become increasingly difficult for companies in the city to get staff as they are all dipping into the same pool, and it is becoming increasingly more expensive to live in London. Business should look to move beyond London in the long term if they wish to find the people. Staying in London will just increase costs over time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 213.

    It is a shame that the gap continues to grow. We need to attract private enterprise out of the SE and we need to make other places less reliant on the bloated public sector. The internet makes it possible for certain types of businesses to be conducted anywhere. Let's offer tax breaks to attract business northward. In fact, I bet plenty of staff would enjoy being out of the Londono rat race.

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    The attitude with people in prosperous town seems to be that is jobless peoples own doing that they are born/live in a place of high unemployment. I still remember the days of 'get on yer bike and find a job' being shouted at people that couldn't afford to put food on the table let alone a bike.


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