Britain 'to be nation of winners and losers living side by side': Traditional patterns of regional prosperity under threat

WEALTH and poverty will exist sideby side in the new social and economic geography of Britain, a report predicts today.

Social polarisation, particularly in cities - where white-collar gentrification is being matched by the growth of an unskilled underclass - will produce an atmosphere similar to modern urban America, according to the Henley Centre. 'More than anywhere else, the southern half of the country has become a divided area where winners and losers live side by side,' the report says.

The centre's study identifies what it calls two 'arcs of prosperity' for the 1990s - one based around Cambridge, the other sweeping from the south-west of Birmingham, through Stratford- upon-Avon, into Northamptonshire and Leicestershire. But it also identifies 'massive differences in economic vitality between localities right across the country', caused by unemployment and the collapse in the housing market, and sweeping away the old regional divisions of prosperity.

Growing competitive pressures, many the product of the recent Gatt (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) free trade deal, are intensifying the process of localisation. Other factors include the peace dividend, which is threatening defence industries, and differences in local skills and entrepreneurialism.

Cities are playing host to a 'growing band of people who gain no benefit from the regeneration of city centres and whose fortunes are generally declining . . . The coexistence of increasing prosperity and expanding poverty clearly raises important questions about social coherence. This polarisation . . creates the potential for the spread of no-go areas,' it adds.

Stephen Radley, the centre's chief economist and editor of the study, yesterday described such polarisation as a nationwide phenomenon and said there were clear implications for crime and security. 'We may become a bit more like New York,' he added.

The arcs of prosperity identified in the heart of England will benefit from a 'self-sustaining' combination of factors, including a highly-skilled professional workforce, a strong entrepreneurial base and efficient infrastructure links within the UK and Europe. However, even within the heart of England, for example, Northampton will see a growth in affluence but Leicester will suffer because of redundancies in traditional industries such as shoe manufacturing.

In the South-west, Swindon should prosper, thanks to good road access and an established cable network, but other towns will be hit by cutbacks in defence industries or a peripheral location.

Manchester and Cheshire will do well but Liverpool and Merseyside will decline. Parts of London will grow but Kent will fare worse. In Wales, gross domestic product is forecast to grow by 16.6 per cent by 1999, outstripping Greater London.

Henley says the atomisation of Britain's socio-economic map is the result of competition from eastern Europe, the Third World and the single European market, all of which is hitting Britain unevenly. Industry shake-outs - job losses in banking, for instance - and decisions by multinationals about where to set up local branches have had a similar effect.

Places with good prospects will be those which develop their services to business. These include London, Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds. A good communications infrastructure, which includes a cable network, is an ingredient of faster growth.

Local Futures 94; The Henley Centre, 9 Bridewell Place, London EC4V 6AY; pounds 1,950.

(Tables omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Analyst - 12 Month FTC - Entry Level

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Chefs - All Levels

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Engineer

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive & Customer Service - Call Centre Jobs!

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?