Report Claims Covid Has Widened England’s North-South Divide

A NEW REPORT by IPPR North claims that the Covid-19 pandemic has widened the divide between England’s North and South.

The report by thinktank IPPR North says that the government’s ‘leveling up’ agenda to boost Northern investment has failed to become a reality and that the pandemic has created more inequality in the northern regions of England.

In the North, unemployment is at its highest since 1994, with 657,000 people claiming some form of benefits in October marking a double increase since last year. Tier 3 affected areas such as Blackpool, Middlesborough, and Hull are the worst hit by job losses.

The report claims that Covid has added to systemic inequality due to decades of centralisation in southern England and ten years of austerity imposed by Conservative governments. ‘Covid-19 makes the challenge of reducing regional inequalities even greater than before – especially for a government whose election platform was to do just that’ said the report.

The government has pledged £4 billion into a local infrastructure scheme for northern areas, but the report claims that due to the fund’s central administration from London it is ‘missing an opportunity to strengthen devolution, build on local knowledge and expertise of combined and local authorities’.

The report said that inequalities between the North and the rest of England can be seen in education, life expectancy, job availability, and median wages. Five million workers in the north of England earn below the real living wage, while 60% of local authorities have recorded a fall in healthy life expectancy in women and a third for men.

‘Our regional divides are severe and growing,’ said the director of IPPR North, ‘we face a climate emergency and Brexit is just around the corner, so a recovery from Covid-19 that simply restores the status quo that has failed so many northerners would be unacceptable’.

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Oisin Sweeney

Oisin is an Irish writer based in Seville, the sunny capital of Andalucia. After starting his working life as a bookseller, he moved into journalism and cut his teeth as a reporter at one of Ireland's biggest news websites. Since joining Euro Weekly News in November, he has enjoyed covering the latest stories from Seville, Spain and further afield - with special interests in crime, cybersecurity, and European politics. Anyone who can pronounce his name first try gets a free cerveza...