To confirm what we have been saying for months now, two statistical reports published this week on the North/South divide show how badly Blackburn is faring after nearly five years under a Tory led Government.
Whilst London and the South East are seeing improvement this is not the case in Blackburn that is failing to share in the economic recovery seen elsewhere.
The Centre for Cities says for every 12 jobs created since 2004, in southern cities, only one was created in cities elsewhere.
The report also shows that Blackburn is in the bottom ten for employment, 61st out of 64 for the lowest employment rate at just 63.4 per cent in 2012/2013, down 2.1 per cent on the previous 12 months.
The Centre for Cities report does contain a glimmer of hope in that business start-up’s in Blackburn, when compared with other city areas, has improved of late and we are in the top five when it comes to innovation (as measured by the number of new patents registered). However, these improvements have been achieved despite us have one of the lowest growth in the number of house start-ups and being in the bottom two city areas when it comes to superfast broadband.
A separate report by economic analysts The Lankelly Chase Foundation is also disappointing as it reveals Blackburn with Darwen borough has the 16th highest proportion of residents suffering multiple disadvantage and deprivation.
It comes as no surprise that 25% of the 25 local authorities reporting the highest level of problems caused by a combination of homelessness, substance abuse and contact with the criminal justice system, high levels of poverty and social isolation, and mental health problems are in the North West. This region has suffered the most since 2010 when the Tory led coalition Government withdrew support for areas like Blackburn where deprivation and poverty is at its most acute.
The Lankelly Chase Foundation calls “for far-reaching changes and a co-ordinated approach” to address multiple disadvantage from government, local authorities and the voluntary sector; a plea unlikely to be heeded by David Cameron and George Osborne whose record show they are only interested in looking after the City chums and vested interests such as the Power Companies and the Media.
The situation so starkly revealed by these reports has been worsened as a result of the Tory Governments policies. For the Tories to introduce austerity in the way they have done by imposing deep and lasting cuts which impact unfairly on northern cities like Blackburn is nothing short of a disgrace.
George Osborne’s decision to wait until the four year in office before making his so called Northern Power House Speech was clear evidence of the Tories being out of touch and also a sign of their panic as the General Election approaches.
On the other hand a Labour Government will cut the deficit by building a strong economic foundation and by balancing the books. It has pledged to fundamentally address the North/South divide by moving resources out of London and boosting decentralised funding to the tune of £30 billion. Such an approach will go some way to addressing the unfairness that is hindering the economic success for Blackburn and why it is vital we elect a Labour Government in May.