North-South divide hits poorest, says TUC

Written By: Ian Hernon
Published: May 4, 2017 Last modified: May 6, 2017

A new TUC analysis has found that London and the South East will account for two-fifths of the UK economy by 2022 if current trends continue, an increase of 2.5 per cent since 2015.

The most significant falls in the share of the economy over the next parliament will be in Yorkshire (down 0.5 per cent to just 6.1%), the North West (down 0.4 per cent to 9%) and Scotland (down 0.4 per cent to 7.2%).

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said this was “not sustainable”, as too many people are missing out on the chance of a decent job just because of where they live.

The TUC said that a comprehensive industrial strategy is essential for rebalancing the economy, and for bringing strong growth and decent jobs to all parts of the UK.

It called on the parties to make manifesto commitments to invest more in infrastructure, to enable the UK to compete with other advanced economies, with digital and communications, transport, water and flood defences, and housebuilding all needing additional support.

It also said they should use public procurement policy to improve jobs and pay, by sourcing goods and services from companies that give workers decent pay and conditions, and by ensuring that companies wishing to invest in skills and apprenticeships are not overlooked in favour of those seeking to compete on low cost.

The TUC wants the next government to grow the UK’s green economy, by setting a robust target of 50 per cent of the UK’s energy coming from renewables by 2030 and making sure new green jobs are delivered to areas that need them most; target low-paid sectors of the economy, to find ways to improve productivity and raise skill requirements so workers have better pay and conditions; and ?give workers a stronger voice, by putting workers on company boards.

Other studies show that planned £15 billion benefit cuts will further deepen the North-South Divide, with the poorest working-age households facing losses of between 4% and 10% of income a year.

If the Tories’ planned cuts were fully in place now, nearly three million working households outside the capital with children on tax credits would be an average of £2,500 a year worse off, with larger families losing more. And the one million households with children and no one in paid work would be an average of £3,000 a year worse off.

About Ian Hernon

Ian Hernon is Deputy Editor of Tribune