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Analysis published by IPPR North this week shows that the government may well be reducing the number of public sector jobs in the North this is not being matched by the private sector ‘filling the gap’ as originally intended as private sectors jobs in some areas are falling too

The public-private transition takes time and a government hellbent on demolishing Regional Development Agencies and front-loaded council cuts made no provision for a soft landing.

What is perhaps more alarming though is that during the same period, public sector jobs in London and the South East actually rose by 32,000 – ironically, the same amount of jobs lost in the North East. IPPR North analysis on four online jobs websites (Reed, Guardian, Civil Service and Local Government Jobs) found:

•    On (allegedly the UK's number one jobsite) There are more 'public sector jobs' advertised in London and the South East than in the rest of the country put together; there are 1062 vacancies in the South East compared to just 67 in the North East.
•    There are 6 times as many vacancies advertised on for the government sector in London and the SE compared to the whole of the North, despite the population only being 10% larger.
•    There are 5 times as many civil service vacancies in London and the South East compared to the North and twice as many local government vacancies; there are no vacancies at all in the North East for the civil service or for local government, whilst the South East and London are looking to recruit almost 300 staff in these sectors.

Analysis of the recruitment websites suggested that many of the new jobs created in London and the South East have been in education – the large majority being in schools – health and social care. This reflects the wider demographic changes in the UK and the growing ‘0-15s’ and ‘65+’ age groups in London and the South East with their particular needs for schooling and health and social care.

The majority of the cuts would appear to be impacting ‘local services’ such as social care, youth services and libraries, whilst ‘national functions’ such as government departments, military bases and protected entities like the GLA – largely concentrated in London and the South East and under the noses of decision-makers – seem better shielded from such extensive job losses. There may also be a small effect from jobs once located in the regions through government offices and Regional Development Agencies being relocated back in Whitehall.

All of this points to the challenges the government faces in trying to rebalance the economy in an era of austerity and with growing population pressures in the South. Without a greater focus on spatial rebalancing and the significant decentralisation of central government functions away from Whitehall, both employment and demographic patterns are unlikely to shift.

IPPR North is currently running the Northern Economic Futures Commission which will bring forward a 10 year strategy for economic growth in the North of England. In the meantime, the government’s emerging ‘Cities’ agenda presents the best bet for the rapid disbursal of economic development powers to the Northern regions. We will be hosting a conference on this subject on the 8th December in Leeds – more details on


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Written by Ed Cox   
Friday, 11 November 2011 15:01
Last Updated on Friday, 11 November 2011 15:03

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