Falling income grows division

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Some senior colleagues have told me to stop hammering on about the north-south divide, saying it might put off potential Labour voters in the south.

Well, tough. A new academic report has confirmed that since the recession began the divide has become an ever-deepening chasm and is growing at its fastest rate since the Second World War.

London and the Home Counties are seeing growth rates of 12 per cent and a recovery in home prices – in the north east both are stagnant.

And it is not just about the economy and jobs – vitally important though they are – but covers more deep-seated inequalities covering people’s lifestyles and expectations.

Median household wealth amongst north east pensioners is half that of those in the south east.

The proportion of adults with degrees is 16 per cent in Newcastle – in London it is 30 per cent.

A key factor is income, which is why I whole-heartedly back the TUC’s new campaign Britain Needs a Pay Rise.

The UK’s overall pay packet was £52bn smaller last year compared to the eve of the recession in 2007.

Despite rises in employment, a combination of falling real wages, reduced hours and changes in the kind of jobs people are doing has reduced the pay packet by 7.5 per cent.

The northern regions experienced the sharpest cut in overall pay packet between 2007-12 – a fall of 10.6 per cent.

While families are feeling the pain of a tight squeeze in their living standards, businesses are also affected by cuts in total pay in their local areas.

Britain’s shrinking pay packet is bad for workers and bad for businesses, and deepens even further the North-South Divide.