Is the UK economy splitting in half?

The gap between Britain’s best-and worst-performing cities has dramatically widened since 2004 to create a “two-tier economy of dynamism and decline”, according to a recently published report.

Centre for Cities’ 2015 Cities Outlook report also makes grim reading for a host of North West towns, with Rochdale, Blackpool and Burnley among those performing poorly.

The report found that for every 12 net new jobs created between 2004 and 2013 in cities in the South of England, only one was created in cities throughout the rest of Great Britain.

It added that national growth between 2004 and 2013 was largely driven by only a handful of cities – mainly located in the south – which have seen their populations boom, their number of businesses grow, and thousands of new jobs created.

At the same time in other cities, migration of young and skilled workers, a lack of business growth, and falling employment opportunities have led their economies to contract.

“Cities drive economic growth and provide jobs and homes for tens of millions. Centre for Cities’ report argues convincingly that devolution of power and resources from Westminster and Whitehall to city regions across the country is vital to creating a sustainable and strong economic recovery nationwide,” says Lord Andrew Adonis, Shadow Infrastructure Minister.

“The North/South divide provides a continuing challenge to central government to ensure that the proceeds of growth benefit every region. Cities Outlook 2015 makes an important contribution to the debate on how to best enable city regions to fulfil their economic potential. It comes at a moment of political opportunity for radical devolution, and I hope this moment will be seized across the political divide.”

In the North West, Rochdale, Blackpool, Wigan and Burnley were found to have suffered the lowest jobs growth between 2004 and 2013. Rochdale was ranked 62nd out of the 63 towns and cities featured in the list, with a -12.2 per cent change.

Economically, there has been a growing recognition that cities matter to the future performance and shape of the national economy. This recognition was reflected by George Osborne setting out his vision of a “Northern Powerhouse” and Nick Clegg launching “Northern Futures”.

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