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Northern cities still face decline despite ‘Powerhouse’ investment

Northern cities are still suffering brain drain and decline despite Northern Powerhouse investment, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) have warned.

The charity’s latest report finds that Rochdale is the most struggling city in the UK, and 10 of the country’s 12 most struggling cities are in the north.

The study measures factors such as changes in employment rates, levels of highly-qualified workers, the number and type of full-time jobs, net migration rates, population change and change in rank. It also warns that northern cities are still facing a brain drain of bright young people to London.

Josh Stott, policy and research manager at JRF, said: “Britain has the potential to become a more prosperous country, with George Osborne’s Northern Powerhouse playing a key role in rebalancing the economy.

“But it must reach all parts of the north to ensure prosperity is shared. To rebalance the economy and ensure local growth provides opportunity for all households, the Treasury needs to ensure areas outside of core cities are not left behind. City leaders – with a new suite of powers at their disposal – must also show leadership to do their part to ensure growth and prosperity is shared by all.”

The study ranked 74 cities with populations of more than 100,000 people and found that despite the government’s investment in building the Northern Powerhouse, three of the 12 cities facing the worst decline (Rochdale, Bolton and Wigan) are in Greater Manchester, which has received extensive devolved powers, including an elected mayor.

Andy Pike, co-author of the report and Professor of Local and Regional Development in the Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies (CURDS) at Newcastle University, said: “Economic and social conditions in UK cities are diverging and increasingly different.

“Many cities in the north are growing but are failing to keep up with national trends. There are three kinds of such cities – ‘core’, ‘overshadowed’ and ‘freestanding’ – each with different predicaments and potentials for growth and prosperity. If the commitment to rebalancing in the UK is meaningful then greater policy attention and resources by central and local government needs to be focused upon the particular needs of these cities lagging behind”.

The top 12 struggling cities are:

  1. Rochdale
  2. Burnley
  3. Bolton
  4. Blackburn
  5. Hull
  6. Grimsby
  7. Dundee
  8. Middlesbrough
  9. Bradford
  10. Blackpool
  11. Stoke
  12. Wigan



Peter Colledge   19/05/2016 at 11:41

I went to Stalybridge last year for a funeral. I was struck by the friendliness of the people in a setting that a local churchman described as grey and squalid. He said we have been forgotten by Manchester; that's where the money is going. I could not but agree. Such a shame.

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