Sword of Damocles? Scale of cuts to north is more like Grim Reaper’s scythe

Further evidence, if any were needed, that the North-South divide is real and threatening to get wider came today with research for BBC Regions showing a map of economic resilience across England, compiled as part of the Corporation’s Spending Review season.

Further evidence, if any were needed, that the North-South divide is real and threatening to get wider came today with research for BBC Regions showing a map of economic resilience across England, compiled as part of the Corporation’s Spending Review season.

The research, conducted by Experian, charts areas of the country that are best and least able to withstand economic shocks, such as public sector cuts, based on an index of 33 variables under the thematic headings: business, community, people and place.

Of the top fifty areas best able to withstand economic shocks, 44 are in London, the south east, east of England and South west. Just six are in the northern half of the country.

Conversely, of the 50 least resilient areas, just nine are in those same southern regions, (including well-known deprivation hotspots like Newham, Barking and Dagenham). The rest are in the north and midlands, with Middlesbrough, Mansfield and Stoke-on-Trent at the bottom on a list of 324 local authority areas.

This research is yet further evidence that Britain remains a fundamentally divided country with an unbalanced economy favouring the needs of an overcrowded and overheated south-eastern economy at the expense of much of the rest of the country.

The least economically resilient areas of Britain are still grappling with the 1980s legacy of massive deindustrialisation and job shedding – courtesy of Thatcherite economic vandalism – and are unlikely to be able to withstand a similar onslaught.

But that is exactly what is expected in next month’s Comprehensive Spending Review. The question now is whether another bout of ‘faith-based economics’ in the shape of the coalition’s massive public spending cuts will deliver a second crushing blow to the economic prospects of the north of England.

Indeed, it is a moot point whether the regional economies of the North have yet to emerge from recession at all. Different research out today shows the North-South divide even stretches to the high street. Shop vacancy rates in town and city centres rose by one per cent to 13 per cent in the first half of this year. Again, the North and Midlands were trailing the south.

Matthew Hopkinson who compiled the research said:

“While some centres, particularly central London and the South East are showing stabilisation or improvement, others in the provinces are not.”

Seeking to pour oil on troubled waters this morning, the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, said:

“While I totally understand people’s anxiety, I don’t think we should aggravate that anxiety by pretending there is a sword of Damocles coming down straight away.”

Given the scale of the promised cuts a more accurate analogy would be the Grim Reaper’s scythe. But Clegg, as a Sheffield MP, will be keen to talk down the imminent threat to economic prosperity in the North. He will be increasingly nervous of the political price to be paid for the coalition’s bout of retro-Thatcherism.

Those ex-steelworkers in The Full Monty may have shed their clothes to earn a living in the city he now represents, but it is coalition MPs in marginal seats who risk losing their shirts if they inflict Thatcherism Part II on the North.

9 Responses to “Sword of Damocles? Scale of cuts to north is more like Grim Reaper’s scythe”

  1. Max

    RT @leftfootfwd: Sword of Damocles? Scale of cuts to north is more like Grim Reaper’s scythe //bit.ly/dmaWss #ConDemNation

  2. Shamik Das

    Sword of Damocles? Scale of cuts to north is more like Grim Reaper’s scythe //bit.ly/dmaWss (via @leftfootfwd)

  3. Gordon Herd

    RT @leftfootfwd: Sword of Damocles? Scale of cuts to north is more like Grim Reaper’s scythe //bit.ly/dmaWss #ConDemNation

  4. william

    By the way,Inflicting Brownism Part 1 meant that the Labour party has been obliterated in most parts of England. For the next Labour leader to become PM one day,taxing to oblivion the functioning part of the UK simply will not wash with the electorate.

  5. PCS GONW Branch

    RT @leftfootfwd: Sword of Damocles? Scale of cuts to north is more like Grim Reaper’s scythe //bit.ly/dmaWss #ConDemNation

  6. Robert

    New labour, a leader in Blair who now agrees with the Tory plans, god you could not make it up if you tried.

  7. Mr. Sensible

    ‘We’re all in this together.’

    How about a cut in VAT on Highschool Musical merchandise?
    🙂

  8. Nicholas Ripley

    Sword of Damocles? Scale of cuts to north is more like Grim Reaper’s scythe //bit.ly/aE9IzU /cc @feedly

  9. Tees Valley disproves Coalition economics | Left Foot Forward

    […] Experian reported on the impact of that on the north east where 43 per cent of jobs are in the public sector. In […]

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