Assuming this report is correct, areas such as those described have significantly higher public sector employment as a proportion of overall employment than, say, the South East of England. A reduction in overall public sector employment is bound to impact disproportionately where the public sector is a bigger employer.
The big question then is how did we end up in a situation where in some towns nearly half the population is dependent on the state for work? These “Soviet towns” as the Times calls them are unsustainable and always have been. What this report really shows is not how the nasty ConDems couldn’t give a toss about the North but how over the last ten years (and more) there has been a total failure to develop new industries to replace mining and manufacturing. Take the North East, between 1998 and 2006, 1.3m jobs were created in health, education and public administration, helping mask the loss of 1.1m manufacturing jobs. You’d have to be mad (or Gordon Brown) to believe that this was an indication of sustainable growth.
As someone who grew up in both Sandwell and Waslall, I wan’t nothing but the best for the people of my hometowns. Of course the Coalition needs to tread carefully, the jobs market can’t handle thousands of new entrants in one or two years. Yes, the Country will save money swapping quangocrat salaries for jobseekers allowances, but this too isnt sustainable (both economically or socaily). We need to grow the private sector too. This is why the Coalition needs to be more radical, setting up real innovation and tax free zones in the North where the losses are felt the most.
Of course people in these areas are going to feel bitter, hard done by, by those nasty ConDems.But its important to remember that last 10 years have been something of a false hope; growth based solely on unsustainable public spending. In too many of our towns the private sector has become a minor part of the local economy. This is the real reason the North will be hit hardest by the cuts.