Levelling up – or ‘facing hardship’ in the South West?

“In the Westcountry, with high numbers of economically inactive residents on fixed incomes and many who work in low paid jobs, the impact of near-recession-like circumstances will be severe.”

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Late last year, the think tank UK Onward looked at levelling up transport in these parts:

Access to good public transport – Vision Group for Sidmouth

It also considered the broader picture:

Levelling Up the South West

On many metrics, the South West performs around average among UK regions. It is not the lowest-ranked region for many of the measures that levelling up might target, whether employment or unemployment, wages or disposable income, or even connectivity.

As this report sets out, this is because headline measures obscure severe weaknesses in certain parts of the South West (because a regional focus excludes intra-regional variation) and in certain parts of the labour market (because headline rates ignore differences in the types of work or the skill level of the workforce). In particular, we find that: ● Unemployment rates have fallen much slower than other regions since the Great Recession. ● Much of the work in the South West is part time, and those below the median are paid poorly compared to the rest of the United Kingdom. ● This is paired with a growing skills shortage among young people and a greater reliance on less productive, lower-paying sectors. ● Connectivity is poor both in terms of transport and digital infrastructure.

The South West is also a divided region, with Cornwall and Devon performing consistently worse on a number of metrics than better-off areas towards Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. Addressing these will be crucial to levelling up and fulfilling the region’s potential. The sections that follow explore each of these issues in turn.

https://www.ukonward.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Levelling-Up-the-South-West-v.3-1-1.pdf

In the light of the latest news on the economy, today’s Western Morning News sounds the alarm on all of these fronts:

TOP STORY: West in the firing line as economy takes a dive…

The low-wage economy of the South West is facing particular hardship in the months ahead, as inflation soars, the overall economy contracts and mortgages head skywards.
The Bank of England yesterday announced a rise in interest rates to 1% and warned that inflation will peak at more than 10% in the autumn, while the UK economy would contract next year. 

In the Westcountry, with high numbers of economically inactive residents on fixed incomes and many who work in low paid jobs, the impact of near-recession-like circumstances will be severe.

Unemployment is also expected to rise in the medium term. After easing back to around 3.6% it will jump to 5.5% in three years, the bank predicts, piling further pressure on the Westcountry.

Bank of England raises interest rate to 1% – a 13-year high – Devon Live

Western Morning News Cornwall – 2022-05-06

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