Page last updated at 21:03 GMT, Sunday, 25 January 2009

Warning of cities' recession risk

BBC reporters describe the picture in different regions around the UK

UK cities outside the south-east England are likely to be hit hardest by recession, a new report warns.

The Centre for Cities charity put on "red" alert Belfast, Liverpool and Hull, owing to high numbers of unemployed and unqualified residents.

Least vulnerable - on "green" - were places including Oxford, Cambridge and Reading, with what the report called their "highly qualified workforces".

But the charity warned that "in 2009 all cities will feel recession bite".

Cities like Bristol, London and Edinburgh were placed on a medium "amber" alert as "they specialise in vulnerable financial services".

"But these cities have highly skilled residents - which means a more flexible and mobile workforce," the report added.

Nearly all say they are well-placed to weather the storm - but they can't all be right
Dermot Finch, Centre for Cities

Cities on "green alert" are mainly in the South East.

"The stronger city economies of the Greater South East, with highly qualified workforces and their profusion of 'knowledge' industries are not immune to job losses but are likely to be less exposed and better placed to recover more quickly," the report suggests.

'More powers'

According to the Centre for Cities, Cambridge saw the lowest increase in people on Jobseeker's Allowance in 2008, while Hull saw the highest increase.

The charity found that more than two thirds of the cities with the largest increases in people on Jobseeker's Allowance were in northern England, "suggesting early job losses amongst more vulnerable workers".

"UK cities will be hit harder than they think by this recession. Nearly all say they are well-placed to weather the storm - but they can't all be right, " said charity director Dermot Finch.

The organisation believes that cities will be "leading the upturn as the economy recovers".

"But they can't just rely on action from Whitehall. Each city needs its own front-line action plan, to keep jobs and retrain workers - and more powers over economic development," said Mr Finch.

Sir Jeremy Beecham, vice-chairman of the Local Government Association, said: "It is clear that a national, 'one size fits all' approach to dealing with the recession simply isn't going to work.

"The fastest way to get out of recession is for more decisions about the economy to be taken at the local level, which means councils and other local bodies continuing to work together with local people and businesses."

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