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UK - North South divide

A North- South Divide in the UK?

There is a clear divide in wealth in the UK, some regions and cities are wealthier than others, and the people who live there have a higher standard of living and can even live longer.


Broadly speaking, there is a North South divide in the UK, the people who live in the South;

• Generally earn more per week
• Generate more wealth for the UK
• Are less likely to be unemployed
• Live longer


However, this is not universally the case. The “rich south” should not really include the south west, London itself has pockets of extreme poverty and the poorer north also has areas of great wealth, such as the oil wealth generated around Aberdeen. Cities also distort the pattern.

London really does dominate the UK’s economy though, and firms AGGLOMERATE there to take advantage of being close to one another.  Related industries can help each other and this makes them more productive.

The weekly earnings map below from the Office for National Statistics really does show this divide between the richer south East and the poorer areas elsewhere.


The Northern Power house – “One Agenda, One Economy, One North”

For many decades now governments have tried to iron out the differences between the north and the south.  The latest idea (created during the parliaments of 2010 to 2015 and 2015+) is to create a “Northern Powerhouse” of well linked northern cities to match, rival and compete with the economic muscle of London.

The proposal for a Northern Powerhouse is based around linking the regional “core” cities of Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield, Hull and Newcastle. Other regional centres would be integrated such as Cumbria, Lancashire, Cheshire, North Yorkshire and the Tees Valley.

Linking these urban areas should help industries perform better and help to even out the UK’s economy to match that of London and the south east.  The main practical areas of the proposal are to;

1. Improve transport links between the places, such as motorway developments and railway improvements such as HS2
2. Invest in science and innovation as is happening in Newcastle Science Central
3. Devolve the powers of government.  Here, many of the decisions currently made in London’s parliament would be passed on to those Northern cities.  This would give northern cities more control on what happens and could help developments be more appropriate to those places. Cities would get their own deals and elected mayors.

Not everyone agrees with the idea however. Some people claim that the plan is too concentrated on Manchester and others question where the money will come from.  Supporters of the scheme point to a similar successful scheme in the Randstad region of the Netherlands and that the idea already has a Minister appointed who can link between the powerhouse and the government in London.

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