There’s still a big divide

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The economic situation faced by the North East has been laid bare in a report by The Institute for Public Policy Research North in which it shows that disposable income in the area is £2,300 less than the national average and £7,200 behind that of London.

This shows the promise of a Northern Powerhouse has a long way to go and is unachievable without a “step change in policy” – not my words but those of the Institute.

Personal insolvency rates fell in the years 2008 to 2013 in London and the Home Counties while increasing in the rest of the country.

Further research by the Centre for Cities shows that for every 12 new private sector jobs created in the South one private sector job has disappeared in the rest of Britain. Sunderland comes in for a mention in the same report as follows: “In one city in the North East, Sunderland, the population declined by 4,000 over the period of the study as jobs dried up and the local economy stagnated”.

Separate research published this month showed people living in Sevenoaks, Kent, have seen their wages soar by 24% in a year, 10 times the national average.

All this is against a backdrop of cuts to funding aimed at councils in the North while maintaining the same level of spending for those in the southern Tory heartlands.

It shows we are not in it together and never were.

The rich have seen massive tax cuts while the poorest have been given the burden of having their income cut under the disguise of a so-called “living wage”, which allied to cuts in Tax Credits will see the poorer working families suffer most of all.

I am no fan of Tax Credits as I believe it is wrong to subsidise low wages and unscrupulous employers but they are a factor in the income of many workers and removing them will cause real hardship to the very families the Tories claim to be trying to help.

Richard Beck