UK cities see widening of economic gap

The national economy is struggling to create the numbers of private sector jobs needed to drive growth, or to balance job losses in the public sector. This pattern has played out very differently across UK cities.

The research shows that the gap between cities is widening.

In February 2008, the gap in the claimant count rate between Hull and Cambridge was 3.2 percentage points.  By November 2011 this gap had widened to 6.1 percentage points.

The report also highlights that there are six times more claimants in the most troubled neighbourhood in Rochdale than there are in the most troubled neighbourhood in Cambridge.

The annual index illustrates how cities with less dynamic private sectors, such as Hull, Doncaster and Newport will find it more challenging to offset the combination of a weak national economy and the ongoing shrinkage of the public sector.

As cities respond to the challenges of high unemployment, a declining public sector and a reduction in real wages, those that bucked the trend and performed well against the odds, such as Edinburgh, Cambridge and London, have common traits. They have strong private sectors, high numbers of skilled residents and large numbers of "knowledge workers" – people who work in professions like accountancy, law and finance.

Alexandra Jones, Chief Executive of Centre for Cities, said: "The year ahead is going to be tough for all UK cities but Cities Outlook 2012 shows that some cities are well-placed to kick-start economic growth.

"However, some cities have been hit particularly hard by recession and the gap between cities is widening. This makes it vital that Government policy is tailored to meet the needs of each city rather than one-size-fits-all. What is right for Brighton and Reading will not be right for Dundee and Middlesbrough."

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