Sunderland City Council deputy leader calls for 'end of north-south divide' as Lord's report highlights country's inequalities

Sunderland City Council's deputy leader has called for the end of the "north-south divide" following a report which has highlighted inequalities in the UK.

By David Allison
Friday, 31 May, 2019, 12:07
Councillor Michael Mordey.

Councillor Michael Mordey has been speaking after the former head of the Civil Service Lord Kerslake called for urgent and drastic actions to stop divisions widening between London and the rest of the UK.

Lord Kerslake's report states that he also believes the country’s current tensions and anger over Brexit could even be eased if the Government did more to tackle the north-south divide.The UK2070 Commission report was an independent inquiry into regional inequalities.

Lord Kerslake, former head of the Civil Service, who has warned that the gaps between the richest and poorest parts of the UK will widen without Government action. Picture by PA.

It compared the scale of the UK’s regional disparities with German reunification in the 1990s after the end of the Cold War when former East Germany was much more economically and socially poorer than West Germany.

The report noted that a child poor enough to receive free school meals in London is still three times more likely to go to university than a child in Hartlepool.It also estimates that more than half of the new jobs will go to London and the South East when it makes up just over a third of the population.

Coun Mordey said: "More must be done to end the north-south divide,

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"Inequality is widening in our country, the gaps and the life opportunities between the rich and the poor are getting bigger.

"It remains a continuing national problem that too many people and businesses in the north of England, and indeed the North East, have been more likely to miss out on the benefits of this country’s economic growth."As a city council, we are intent on seeing Sunderland become more vibrant, healthy and dynamic.

"Yet, this will not be done overnight and it cannot be done in isolation. "Sadly, we are a country that is divided by inequalities in health, wealth and opportunity.

"Lord Kerslake's report is a good starting point for how this country must start thinking more long-term."Lord Kerslake suggests a 25-year National Renewal Fund and new super regional agencies to promote economic development.

"These are good ideas and deserve more attention because, as the report suggests, there is every chance that London and the M25 will continue to draw resources, jobs and people away from Sunderland and the North."To tackle regional inequality, the UK2070 Commission proposes: • Much greater devolution of powers and funding, including the creation of four new ‘super regional’ economic development agencies• A spatial plan to guide the future development of the whole of the UK• Action to harness new technologies and strengthen local economies• Long-term investment through a new National Renewal Fund which would rebalance the economy over a 25-year period. Lord Kerslake said: “Reorganising ourselves and reinvesting regionally, whilst also sustaining London’s strengths, could prove a powerful force in bringing a disunited kingdom back together and helping it face the future."

The report can be read in full at http://uk2070.org.uk/news/