NEW figures revealing the widening of the North-South divide over the last decade have triggered calls for faster and bolder plans to grow the Yorkshire economy.
A report by the Centre for Cities thinktank shows for every 12 jobs created by southern cities over the last ten years only one was created in the rest of the UK.
Of the ten towns and cities in Yorkshire examined by the report, four have seen no net change in the number of jobs over the last ten years and six have experienced a net loss.
Sheffield City Council chief executive John Mothersole said: “I think there is an alignment now, either by chance or by design, between a North that knows what it can be good at and is feeling confident about itself and national policies that are increasingly recognising that we can’t go on with the South and London in particular generating all the cash.
“I think the real question is how quickly and boldly can we do it? Sometimes we are very good in this country at deciding what the right thing to do is and then doing it in baby steps.”
Mr Mothersole said a thriving North would not come at the expense of the South East.
“This nation needs a high-performing London, what this nation doesn’t need is an underperforming North.”
All the major political parties have made commitments to help the North’s economy but today’s report has added weight to the argument of those calling for a more radical approach.
Centre for Cities acting chief executive Andrew Carter said: “The stark picture the report paints of the enormous gap in the fortunes of UK cities over 10 years underlines why a ‘steady as she goes’ approach must be scrapped.
“We must move from thinking that bundling up new funding streams with bureaucratic delays, or simply tinkering around the edges with well-intentioned announcements, will be enough to reverse trends that are becoming increasingly entrenched.”
In a speech today on jobs, one of his six themes for the Conservative manifesto, David Cameron will reiterate the pledge he made at the Tories’ autumn party conference last year to pursue full employment.
He will also promise a future Conservative government would invest in infrastructure that helps attract businesses and jobs to the whole of the UK.
The Prime Minister will say: “Full employment may be an economic term, but this is what it means in human terms: it means more of our fellow men and women with the security of a regular wage; it means you, your family and your children having a job and getting on in life.
“We have had a tough few years as a country, but we are coming out the other side. We are the jobs factory of Europe; we’re creating more jobs here than the rest of Europe put together.
Mr Cameron will link the effort to get people into work with controls on immigration and limits on the benefits that can be claimed by migrants from European Union countries.