The gap between economies in northern and southern English cities has dramatically widened in 10 years. A study by the Centre for Cities says for every 12 jobs created since 2004 in southern cities, only one was created in cities elsewhere. It said overall growth had been mainly driven by southern English cities, but big Scottish cities had grown well. In Scotland, Aberdeen saw bigger growth than Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee, largely, but not entirely, because of its proximity to the oil and gas fields in the North Sea. The three Welsh cities performed slightly below the UK average, with Cardiff, Swansea and Newport falling behind the UK cities’ average.

Centre for Cities, which was set up in 2005 as an independent research organisation by Lord Sainsbury, said the number of jobs created in London rose by more than 17% between 2004 and 2013. But in Blackpool, Rochdale and Gloucester there were falls of 10%. This picture is mirrored by the pattern of business start-ups, with Swindon in the south seeing the creation of a third more businesses compared with a fall of 5.5% in Grimsby.

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