Posts Tagged ‘regionalism’

Give us a Barnett formula for the North to match the Marshall plan we have for the South

05/09/2011, 09:09:24 AM

by Kevin Meagher

“Power, wealth and opportunity” should be “in the hands of the many, not the few” intones Clause Four (Section Four) of the Labour party constitution. An admirable sentiment and one that we could usefully start by applying to our unbalanced and dysfunctional national economy.

No, this isn’t a moan about the iniquities of the Barnett formula, which was revealed last week to shower a fifth more public spending on Scotland than England.

For those of us living north of the Wash, our beef is not with our Caledonian neighbours, but our Southern English brethren. Yes, the problem is our old friend the North/ South divide; that drag anchor that mars all efforts to deliver the wise words emblazoned on the back of our membership cards.

You can see why, when the unemployment rate in the South East is now half that of the North East. The TUC estimates that there are 158,000 fewer jobs now than there were on the eve of the recession in December 2007. During that time, the North West and Yorkshire and Humber regions have lost 60,000 jobs apiece. London, on the other hand, has actually seen 122,000 more jobs created.

Meanwhile the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s latest quarterly labour market outlook found a stark differential in business confidence, with employers in the South expecting to increase staffing levels over the next three months, while those in the North predict further job cuts.

The government’s response to this glaring asymmetry? The department of business has just confirmed that it has only managed to green-light one out of fifty approved bids to its new regional growth fund, the scheme designed to bolster the private sector in those regions most reliant on the public sector (and therefore most exposed to cuts). Yet even if all its projects were up and running, this £1.4bn pot amounts to just a third of what Labour’s regional development agencies were spending.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon