Bradford’s economic decline highlighted in report

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A damning picture of the fortunes of a number of Yorkshire’s cities over the past century has been revealed with Bradford declining further than all but one place in England.

Cities Outlook 1901, a research project by the think tank Centre for Cities, captures how life has changed for the people since the start of the 20th century.

The report highlights the extent of the long-term scarring effect that poor skills can have on a city and the people who live there. Focusing on the numbers of highly skilled people but also looking at measures like population, employment and wages it finds that only Hastings has suffered a bigger negative swing in the past 100 years than Bradford.

Of 57 places, Grimsby and Doncaster have also suffered significant declines, rating 54th and 51st respectively in the table.

However at the top end, Leeds has seen considerable improvement – ranking sixth overall – as has Sheffield, which was placed tenth.

Bradford West MP George Galloway said: “While this is another deeply depressing finding – Bradford again languishing near the bottom of the league on progress – it does point to the solution.

“It illustrates that short-term cuts in expenditure, from transport infrastructure to education, have profound long-term consequences and that the way to improvement is through investing in growth, particularly in education.

“Which is why I have made it my priority to strive to improve Bradford’s schools. I am sure that after Education Secretary Michael Gove visits the city in the autumn, and his and my advisers brainstorm, we will be able to announce a series of measures to radically transform education outcomes in the city and the life prospects of our young people.”

Seven out of eight of the best performing cities had above average skills levels in 1901, while 80 per cent of cities with vulnerable economies in 2012 fall into the bottom 20 for skills levels in 1901.

Alexandra Jones, Chief Executive of Centre for Cities, said: “History tells us that failure to invest in city economies has long term effects for the UK economy.

“The Government needs to preference the policies that support cities to grow.”