Monday, September 13, 2010

Cuts to hit Midlands and North hardest

I wasn’t surprised to see that the Midlands and the North are likely to be hit harder than the South when the public spending cuts bite.

This was the main finding of recent research carried out on behalf of the BBC The study assesses how England's regions may cope with further public sector cuts and looks at four categories; business, community, people and place. It then ranks the different local authorities according to how well they will do when subjected to the economic shocks caused by spending cuts.

Overall the survey does not predict good times ahead for the East Midlands, with only two local authorities in the top 50 best-placed authorities, while seven are in the bottom 50.

But depicting this as a “north-south divide” story as the BBC does is too simple. It’s not just because the Midlands (whether East or West) is not in the North. It’s because we can see major differences within each Region.

In the East Midlands, for instance, Harborough (14th position overall out of 324 local authorities) is next door to Leicester in 302nd position. Similarly Rutland (53rd) shares a border with Corby (202nd). And even within a more affluent area there will be pockets of more deprived communities.

Surveys like these are blunt instruments at best, but what is clear is that the less well-off, wherever they are to be found, are likely to suffer more than the well-to-do. The idea that “we are all in this together” is an insult.

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