EVEN though the number of people in work continues to reach near record levels – economic success which offers some solace to Theresa May – the pay divides are stark.
As well as a substantial North-South differential, the gap in earnings between the wealthy and less well-off is still significant.
This is the context, and motivation, behind the IPPR North’s challenge to regional leaders to introduce a ‘Living Wage North’ by no later than 2025. A laudable ambition, it offers hope to the 1.6 million people from the region who are paid less than the real living wage, the minimum amount that average families need to earn each week in order to make financial ends meet.
Yet, while the well-respected think-tank places the onus on metro mayors and local leaders here to achieve this objective, politicians and businesses will require national support if a Living Wage North is to be introduced without compromising the region’s economy.
As such, this means the Government embracing the Northern Powerhouse policy agenda, and providing the skills, digital and transport infrastructure that this region desperately needs, to enable firms here to fulfil their true potential.
And while it is probably too much to expect the Prime Minister to address this after she allowed her former Downing Street aides to thwart so much impetus, this newspaper, for one, will be closely scrutinising the approach to the Northern Powerhouse that Mrs May’s potential successors intend to take. They have much to prove.