Regional divides in the UK are among the worst in the developed world, according to a report, which found that parts of England have higher mortality rates than places in Turkey, Romania and Poland.
Research by the thinktank IPPR North found that the UK is more unequal than comparable countries on measures such as health, jobs, disposable income and productivity. The divide in terms of disposable income had grown in the UK in recent years, with an average £48,000 per person gap between those living in the wealthiest areas and those in the most deprived.
It said mortality rates – the number of people who die relative to the size and age of the population – were worse in Blackpool, Manchester and Hull than in the Turkish cities of Tunceli, Mardin and Muğla, the Romanian region of Vâlcea, and the cities of Krakow and Wrocław in Poland.
Luke Raikes, a senior research fellow at IPPR North, said: “It is no surprise that people across the country feel so disempowered. Both political and economic power are hoarded by a handful of people in London and the south-east and this has damaged all parts of the country, from Newcastle to Newham.”The inequality in Britain is far more complex than a north-south divide or “cities versus towns”, pointing to high levels of poverty in parts of inner-city London as well as the existence of affluent towns and stagnant cities.
The UK is “consistently more divided than any comparable country” when it comes to vital topics such as productivity, income, unemployment, health and politics, the research found.
In terms of productivity, which economists believe is vital for economic growth and raising living standards, the UK is the most regionally divided country of its size and level of development and has not improved for a decade. The only countries that are more regionally unequal in productivity are very different in other ways, the report said, such as many eastern Europe economies that are far smaller than the UK.