Warwickshire's 'north-south' divide is growing, say experts

Stratford-upon-Avon While the numbers claiming Jobseeker's Allowance had grown in Nuneaton and Bedworth, they had dropped in Stratford-on-Avon

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A north-south divide in Warwickshire is growing, according to a new report.

The county council's Quality of Life report said people living in Nuneaton and Bedworth fare worse than those in Warwick or Stratford-on-Avon.

Start Quote

We have swathes of industrial land but nobody seems to be interested in coming here.”

End Quote June Tandy, Warwickshire county councillor

The study found the number of people in the Nuneaton area claiming Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) had grown but the number of claimants in Stratford-on-Avon had fallen.

Councillors said it would "take a generation" to close the divide.

'Pockets of deprivation'

While 2,851 people in Nuneaton and Bedworth were claiming JSA in June 2013, a rise of 0.7% on the previous year, Stratford-on-Avon had just 756 claimants - a fall of 23.6%, the report claimed.

It said communities in Nuneaton and Bedworth were more likely to be at risk from "inter-generational unemployment" - generations of adults who have never worked.

"In other words, an individual's life chances are influenced by where they are born in the county," it concluded.

It also stated the number of households classified as being "a priority need" by the council - at risk of losing their homes - had fallen to 68 in Stratford-on-Avon - down from 87 in 2011/12, but the number rose to 180 from 139 in Nuneaton and Bedworth.

The report's author, Andy Davis, said working-age adults in the Nuneaton area could miss out on nearly £500 a year, compared with £295 in Warwick, in the south of the county when the government's welfare changes come into effect.

Alan Cockburn, deputy leader of Conservative-led Warwickshire council, said: "The north-south divide has been there ever since I can remember. It's going to take a generation to try to close it completely."

Bill Gifford, Liberal Democrat councillor for Leamington Spa, said: "The whole of the south of the county is doing well but, nonetheless, there are pockets of deprivation. In areas of south Leamington and Lillington, there are quite considerable needs."

However, June Tandy, Labour group leader said: "It's easy to say there are pockets of deprivation across the county but Nuneaton and Bedworth has some of the highest deprivation in the country.

"What I would like to see is far more investment by businesses in the north. It's nice and comfortable for them to go south. We have swathes of industrial land but nobody seems to be interested in coming here."

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