John Healey: New figures reveal true scale of Tories’ betrayal of the North

north south

Regional inequality is at its highest level since records began in 1997, and has worsened in every year since 2010 – according to new research published by a former Labour Treasury minister.

Using the latest ONS statistics, John Healey found the gulf between England’s poorest region, the North East, and its richest region, London, has widened since 2010. The country’s capital now has an economy nearly eight times the size of the North East’s.

Healey, MP for Wentworth and Dearne, produced the figures as the future of the “Northern Powerhouse” – devised by George Osborne to close the inequality gap between the North and the South – appears to lie in tatters.

The continuing regional economic disparity is also reflected in house prices. Values in London have almost doubled since 2008, whereas in areas like Blackpool and Blaenau Gwent, house prices have not even recovered to pre-crisis levels.

Healey called on the Government to introduce a “regional gains test” as part of post-Brexit trade negotiations. The aim of this test would be to make sure all parts of the country benefit from new trade arrangements.

In an article for LabourList he writes: “The Brexit vote gives the gulf in regional economic fortunes fresh political as well as economic impetus. The opportunity gap between different parts of the country which was the part of the breeding ground for Brexit. Labour must show how things can be different.”

The Gini coefficient, which measures inequality, has also registered growing regional inequality. It stable under the last Labour government until the 2008 financial crisis. Prior to the crash it was 0.106. It has risen ever year and has now reached the highest ever recorded level at 0.124.


Regional Gini coefficients since 1997
1997 0.108
1998 0.114
1999 0.114
2000 0.119
2001 0.118
2002 0.116
2003 0.111
2004 0.107
2005 0.109
2006 0.106
2007 0.109
2008 0.115
2009 0.115
2010 0.116
2011 0.118
2012 0.119
2013 0.120
2014 0.124

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