Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Positive Start on Narrowing the Divide

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Positive Start on Narrowing the Divide

Article excerpt

One swallow, as they say, does not make a summer but it is encouraging that ( for the first time in 13 years ( one element of the North-South divide has narrowed.

The fact that the region remains bottom of England's wealth league ( according to the Office of National Statistics ( remains the important statistic, but progress is welcome.

The figures are for 2003 and based on "gross value added per head" which is a measure of wealth used by economists.

That still leaves a gap of pounds 3,300 per person with the average for the rest of the UK and a staggering pounds 8,300 with the average person living in London.

The North-East remains pounds 2,700 per person worse off than Scotland but the divide with the national average is pounds 100 per person closer in real terms than 12 months earlier.

It is to be hoped that this is the start of a turning of the tide and not some statistical blip.

Challenges, quite obviously, remain and it is encouraging that the reaction to these figures is best described as welcoming but guarded. …

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