IPPR Report

IPPR: UK power more centralised than any other country

IPPR North has published analysis of regional inequality in the UK, which the think tank said exposes “the alarming extent” of divides across the country, “created and worsened” by most power being held in Whitehall.

The State of the North 2019 report said the country is more regionally divided than comparable countries like France or Germany on vital areas like health, jobs, disposable income and productivity. Only very different countries like Romania and South Korea are more divided.

The report outlines:

  • The health divide is larger than any comparable country; rates of mortality vary more within the UK than in the majority of developed nations and some places like Blackpool, Manchester and Hull have mortality rates worse than parts of Turkey, Slovakia and Romania
  • The jobs divide is larger than any comparable country. Where you live in the UK makes a big difference to opportunities for work, given the job creation rate is far higher in London and the south east than any other part of the UK
  • The disposable income divide is larger than any comparable country and has increased over the last 10 years. In Kensington and Chelsea, Hammersmith and Fulham, disposable income per person is £48,000 higher than in Blackburn with Darwen, Nottingham and Leicester
  • The UK’s productivity divide is larger than any comparable country. Parts of London and the South East have an economy among the most productive in the developed world, whereas parts of Northern Ireland, Wales and the North are less productive than parts of Poland, Hungary and Romania

IPPR North stressed “many of these divides have been created and worsened by the fact that in the UK power is more centralised than any comparable country”.

According to IPPR, 95p in every £1 paid in tax is taken by Whitehall; in Germany it is 69p in every £1 raised by central Government. Just 1% of GDP is spent by local government on economic affairs, half as much as is spent locally and regionally in France or Germany.

As a solution, IPPR pointed to the opportunities of devolution, demonstrated by Northern Mayors over recent years, to unlock the potential of people and their communities.

Luke Raikes, report author and senior research fellow at IPPR North, said: “It is no surprise that people across the country feel so disempowered. Both political and economic power are hoarded by a handful of people in London and the south east and this has damaged all parts of the country, from Newcastle to Newham.

“Low investment holds back regions like the North, Midlands and South West, while centralisation has let London’s housing crisis drive up poverty in the capital.

“All our regions’ economies have been held back by centralisation – but they’re interdependent too and we can no longer ignore that. All our regions need devolution to be empowered, and to work together. This must be a top priority for the next government.”

Report author and interim director of IPPR North, Arianna Giovannini said: “Mayors in the North have shown what’s possible, despite the limited amount of devolved power they currently have. Devolution must be the way forward for the country, and all areas need substantial power and funding.

“The next Government must lead a devolution parliament – an unprecedented and irreversible shift of power – so that England’s regions, towns and cities can work together to bridge our regional divides”.

Responding to the State of the North report, Roger Marsh, chairman of the NP11 Board and Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, said: “IPPR North is right to emphasise that empowering the North and other regions outside of London to collaborate with pounds and powers through devolution – rather than the current system which encourages competing for resources from the centre – is the most effective way to unleash our collective potential.

“The Manifesto for the North, produced by NP11 and Convention for the North, has set out a roadmap for how this devolution, aligned with investment in transport and skills, will help to address inter-regional inequalities, rebalance the UK economy, and place the North at the front and centre of tackling the climate emergency.”

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That’s why I’m moving South

By Dan

This was the real underlying reason for Brexit, not the (ever-changing) reasons given by the Brexit Campaign. People felt disenfranchised by Whitehall. Europe was just a convenient fall guy (and of course the ultimate scapegoat of failed thinking, immigrants that actually add value, not take it away as demonstrated by all studies into this field…look it up and check the primary sources).

Therefore, Brexit may happen but the electorate will not see any change in their franchise. Then the government of the day will turn to blame immigrants again, I suspect, because every failure is always blamed on them as the tabloids and white van man will take up the rallying cry, thereby obscuring the real culprits who did not invest in services…our own politicians. People need to understand that the EU was not about bent bananas and that is the failure of the EU to educate the populations about what they actually do, a lot of which is exemplary and some of which is nonsensical….but people only like reading about the nonsensical as its more newsworthy, after all who wants to read about the massive leaps in science engendered by collaboration in Europe when we can all have a laugh about “bent bananas”…which isn’t even a real policy as promoted by the tabloids and the less agriculturally educated. I like your comment Dan but I can’t join you…the people are nicer up here…I spent too long down there and it made me too impolite. I am hoping that my fellow Mancunians can help me mellow out again.

By Not Sarah

That’s a nice opinion about Brexit you got there, got any facts to back any of that up? No? didn’t think so.

By Anonymous

Anonymous. So what is it about the EU that UK folk do not want? Apart from hundreds of thousands of Europeans being allowed to live and work here, just like the southern Irish? What exactly are they horrified about when they visit Austria, Denmark, Germany that justifies commmiting economic suicide?

By James Yates

Brexit and the North/South divide are to seperate issues but ironic in another!

BREXIT is about Identity, National democratic self governing rule and a countrys direction and way of life.

The North/South divide is about years of under investment in the north! and not being able as an individual area like greater manchester to make policy and execute it for the good of the region! In a weird kind of way its like London and the south east is europe with all the power, budgets etc.. and the North is Britain! wanting to control our own destiny with its own policy and budgets.

Pretty ironic!

By From the North

Not Sarah is spot on.

Our problems I’m the north are nothing to do with the EU and almost entirely due to our over centralised and detached domestic government in Westminster. Prime example being the lack of movement on upgrading capacity between Piccadilly and Oxford Road stations which would have benefits for services across the north. If this was in London, they would’ve grasped the nettle and completed it ages ago.

By Westminster hater

The problem is Burnham and Rotherham have hardly knocked peoples socks off in their devolution roles have they? What economically has happened in both areas that wouldn’t have happened anyway without another tier of government?

By John Smith