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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Life and Style
tech
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
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: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas