Did you know the North-South divide phenomenon originates as early as the mid 1800’s…no…1 didn’t either?
It comes from gathering statistical evidence about socio-economic trends in the UK including, at it’s inception, variable rates in marriage (1841-1870) and the concentration of domestic servants in Victorian England.
Broadly the ‘Divide’ is an invisible diagonal line traversing the UK that typifies differences in the UK population including: the generally affluent South compared with the relatively deprived North, higher cost of living in the South compared with the North, and greater unemployment in the North compared with the South; amongst other things.
These observations can often be generalised and do not necessarily foster a spirit of national unity or inclusivity. Recent fiscal predictions concerning public sector retrenchment may widen the chasm, painting a deeper diagonal stripe across our green and pleasant land…a slash across the face of our nation.
Ironically named accountants UHY Hacker Young, project the reduction of public sector finance will be disproportionally loaded against our Northern cities and communities. For example, the predictions include Middlesbrough seeing reductions in public spend of 43%, Liverpool stands at 39% and Newcastle 38%. Compare this with London at 22%, Swindon 20% and Milton Keynes 19%.
Our Northern Communities also have a far higher proportion of the working populous employed in public service – often as much as 70%. Latest gross domestic product (GDP) outcomes offer encouragement with a healthy 1.1% increase in the last quarter, however we have yet to feel the full force of the cut backs in public spending, as well as the increase in the rate of VAT to 20%. Without sufficient and sustained economic growth (see previous blogs – The Beveridge Curve, It’s all about Equilibrium and NIESR headwinds), I have serious concern about the societal impact in our Northern Communities.
In these challenging times I believe we should all be pulling together and breaking down a latter-day Hadrian’s Wall…don’t you?