North-South divide grows as 1.7m jobs head towards London...

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The Independent Online

The North-South economic divide is widening as London exerts an increasingly powerful pull on the rest of Britain.

The North-South economic divide is widening as London exerts an increasingly powerful pull on the rest of Britain.

The boom in banking and the financial sector - which now employs 1.7 million more people than it did 10 years ago - has been so dramatic that it has altered the country's demographic balance in a decade, a study published yesterday found.

The employment has nearly all been created in the South, while 500,000 jobs have vanished in skilled trades, most in the North.

All 20 areas with the most high-income homes are in and around the capital, while nearly all of the districts with the fewest are in northern England, Scotland and Wales. The population is slowly moving south, with skilled young people moving in unprecedented numbers towards London, displacing older and sicker people and the less skilled, the analysis of the 2001 census by the University of Sheffield found

Some 20 per cent of graduates live in London, a significant increase from 16 per cent 10 years earlier.

At the same time, most major cities outside London have suffered population declines, with Birmingham down 3 per cent in a decade, Glasgow and Liverpool down 8 per cent and Manchester down 10 per cent. Daniel Dorling, professor of human geography at Sheffield, said: "Our conclusion is that the country is being split in half.

"To the south is the metropolis of Greater London, to the north and west is the 'archipelago of the provinces' - city islands that appear to be slowly sinking demographically, socially and economically.

"On the maps shown here, the United Kingdom is looking more and more like a city-state. It is a kingdom united only by history, increasingly divided by its geography."

The study concludes that, overall, there are more poor households than a decade ago. Despite the prosperity of London, the nation's two poorest local authority areas are the boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Hackney, where almost half of households live in poverty.

The number of people who are working in unskilled occupations has increased dramatically from 2.1 million in 1991 to 3.2 million in 2001. The highest concentration of people working in such jobs is found in Corby, Northamptonshire, (9.8 per cent). The lowest is in Richmond upon Thames (2.5 per cent).

Researchers found the number of people living in the traditional family unit of two parents with one parent working had fallen by 1.5 million, with the most decline in northern Scotland.

...but life in Chorleywood loses some of its lustre

It was hailed as the happiest place to live in Britain for its quality of life, with low crime, good schools, high car ownership and good shops.

But the stockbroker belt town of Chorleywood in Hertfordshire could be forgiven for being less happy last night after statisticians from Oxford University found they had got their sums wrong. Their recalculation places the town in third position, with the top spot going to Oakley, near Basingstoke in Hampshire, which was originally third.

The change in fortunes was blamed on "teething troubles" in calculating the "deprivation index" which compares 32,000 neighbourhoods on 37 measures including crime, health and education.

Statisticians at Oxford University's Social Disadvantage Research Centre, who were hired by the Government to carry out the exercise, blamed the mistake on two errors made while feeding in data.

Villagers in Chorleywood were philosophical. The parish clerk, Yvonne Merritt, said: "Being called the happiest place in Britain made us reflect on how lucky we are. If someone else is happier, then so be it." Sally Warner, Oakley's parish clerk, said: "We were delighted to be third. Now we are even more delighted."

HIGH-INCOME HOMES

Most

1 Wokingham, Berks

2 Hart, Hants

3 Richmond-upon-Thames

4 St Albans

5 Surrey Heath

6 Wandsworth

7 Chiltern, Bucks

8 Windsor & Maidenhead

9 Elmbridge, Surrey

10 South Bucks

11 Bracknell Forest, Berks

12 Woking

13 Wycombe, Bucks

14 Guildford

15 Kensington & Chelsea

16 Kingston-upon-Thames

17 West Berks

18 Hammersmith & Fulham

19 East Herts

20 South Oxon

Fewest

1 Blaenau Gwent

2 Easington, Co Durham

3 Penwith, Cornwall

4 Kingston-upon-Hull

5 Dumfries & Galloway

6 Merthyr Tydfil

7 Dundee

8 Western Isles

9 Stoke-on-Trent

10 Neath/Port Talbot

11 Blackpool

12 South Tyneside

13 Berwick-upon-Tweed

14 Orkney islands

15 Pembrokeshire

16 Gwynedd

17 West Somerset

18 Hartlepool

19 Great Yarmouth

20 Liverpool

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