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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 July, 2004, 19:51 GMT 20:51 UK
Is there a north-south divide?
London skyline
The north-south divide is getting wider according to new research by Sheffield University.

An "unprecedented" migration of skilled workers from the North to London between 1991 and 2001 has meant that people living in the South tending to be better educated and earn more than their northern counterparts.

Southerners also tend to have more doctors and dentists to treat them - but are less likely to be ill.

The government has been trying to attract businesses to the North and several cities have undergone regeneration projects.

Does the north-south divide exist? If so, do you think that it's getting bigger? What measures should the government take? Have you been affected? Send us your comments and experiences?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

This topic was suggested by Mark, UK
Is the north/south divide widening?

It is time for London to break away as its own state. London does not need the dependant north on its shoulders.
Donal, Hackney, E London

Yes there is. There are good things in both, as well as bad. I have moved from North to South and after 15 years I am ready to return north. Fresh air and calmer pace of live from me are more valuable than cash
Allister Murdoch, London, England

I live in the south, but when I visit relatives in the North I bring back fresh meat for the freezer as its so much cheaper and better quality. We may earn more in the south, but everything costs more...
Caron, England

When the South gets a sneeze then the North gets pneumonia
Robin Witting, Scunthorpe
The North has never properly recovered from the wholesale industrial devastation of the Thatcher years. Living wages have been, at best, replaced by facile employment at 4.50 an hour along with the invisible agency workforce. And the Blair government expect people to take out their own pension at that. The heart went out of Scunthorpe with the steelworks closures. Thriving communities were dismantled to be replaced by the white-heat of the modern-day marketplace. Free enterprise is a wonderful thing but it dismisses people - the components of any society - as either empty-headed consumers or a necessary evil when it comes to employment. When the South gets a sneeze then the North gets pneumonia. 'Twas ever thus.
Robin Witting, Scunthorpe

The big divide is between the London rat race and everyone else. People in London live in a different world with the longest working hours and the highest costs. From a quality of life point of view I would not chose to live there.
John , High Wycombe, UK

I think Northerners secretly like being the underdogs, but if so it won't help bridge the divide. That said, I don't think the South East is exactly Utopia, so perhaps we all have lessons to learn.
Russ, London, UK

. Surely it goes far beyond financial and economic indicators - its about quality of life
Martin, Ely
Yes there is. The North is clean, open, relaxed, cheaper, more content, non-pressurised, slower paced, happier and unconcerned with the self obsessed south which is none of the above. Surely it goes far beyond financial and economic "indicators" - its about quality of life.
Martin, Ely

Wish I lived back up north, it's a much nicer place then London and the South East. Perhaps if the government moved its departments out of London we'd save tax money and equalise any north-south gap.
Paul Weaver, London, UK

To explain all these problems away in an over simplified north/south divide is naive. I was born to a poor family in the south-east. Shock horror! Poor people do exist here as well! I couldn't afford to buy - or rent - a house in my native Surrey, so I've had to move further afield and commute back into town, which eats up most of my wages. Young people 'down here' still have the same problems as many of the people on list discussion list. I would also quite happily move north, west, or wherever. The government should aim to distribute businesses, and therefore work, across the UK instead of squashing everything into the south east. But don't just squabble on these message boards, you should be taking the issues up with local MP's etc. No one will do anything unless we speak up.
Anon in the over developed South East

How on earth is Leicester more affluent than Cheshire?
Chris, Cardiff, UK
This data is 3 years old. Liverpool and Manchester are examples of two northern cities which have turned a massive corner since then, and are now growing faster (in percentage terms) than most regions in the so-called south. Secondly there are affluent parts of both these cities and Cheshire which make large parts of London and the South East in the shade. The fact is that there are rich and poor side by side, and you cannot simply say there is a north south divide. How on earth is Leicester more affluent than Cheshire?
Chris, Cardiff, UK

It's often assumed that people impose restrictions on their job searches to local areas. Whilst this may be convenient to explain away lack of movement of skilled candidates to London, the reality is that moving to London is very difficult. Every job interview is a 60 quid train fare and a 4am start away. Not so if you happen to live there already. And so the divide widens ...
Paul, Solihull, UK

We moved to Dumfries to get away from the rat race, and very nice it is up here. But 5 in the borders is very different from 5 down South. It's a lot of money here.
Richard Toulson, Dumfries, Scotland

Embark on massive house building projects in impoverished areas
Lloyd Evans, Brighton, UK
I live in Brighton, so everywhere is "up north" from me. The only sustainable way to tackle the divide between the south east and everywhere else is to embark on massive house building projects in impoverished areas. This will employ locals and ensure that they can afford homes of their own. It might also encourage people to move to those areas in search of affordable housing. Industry will then have a stable employment base, and the regions will stabilise. This is a long-term solution to a problem that has no quick fix.
Lloyd Evans, Brighton, UK

If the South is SO expensive can any one charity explain why they have a headquarters in the "expensive south" rather than the "cheap north"? It's your money they waste!
Derek "North", Sunderland

Come to the South! You're all welcome! Welcome to unaffordable housing, terrible public transport, premium prices, traffic congestion that would drive the sanest of people nuts, and air pollution that'll knock ten years off your life! Yup, welcome one and all.
Robert, NW9, London, England

I occasionally have to deal with the "South East England Development Agency". Wouldn't it be better if the South East had an "undevelopment agency"?
Phil, Oxford, UK

As someone who will go on to university to learn a profession, I am glad about this north-south divide. The 'brain drain' means that my skills will be rarer, and therefore more in demand. The more professionals that move to the South the less there will be to take jobs/work off those who stay!
David Russell, Glasgow, Scotland

In France, they have made a concerted effort to tackle regional disparities and in particular the gulf between the prosperous greater Paris area and the rest of the country by investing in rail transport and regional development on a huge scale. The solution in Britain? To plan more and more houses and offices in London and the South and to do virtually nothing else for twenty years! No wonder we have a divide and it's getting much worse.
Matthew, London, UK

The people that matter, teachers, nurses, firemen, police etc cannot afford to buy there
Tim M, US
There is nothing I'd like more than to move back to my native Dorset, but that's never going to happen. The people that matter, teachers, nurses, firemen, police etc cannot afford to buy there due to punishing house prices and laughable wages. Ask a local in the villages - the only folks buying nowadays are looking for a weekend place while contributing nothing to the tax-base.
Tim M, US

Of course there is a North South divide, but not only in the fact that the South thinks that it is richer and better off than the North. This is one of the country's great misconceptions. The quality of life and personal values are so much greater in the North and trying to compare 60,000 income with 30,000 does not stack up, as the poor Southerner probably has to spend a far greater percentage for virtually every aspect of their life. Wrong assumptions fed into the survey results in rubbish spewed out - Yet again.
Bill , Bracknell, UK

Stop whinging northerners
Conrad, Reading
Judging from a lot of the replies on this forum the north-south divide seems to consist solely of moaning northerners assuming everyone in the south is a materialistic snob. And if you were building a rail terminal/sports stadium/airport would you put it closest to cities populated by millions of people who could actually use the facilities, or in the middle of nowhere? Stop whinging northerners and do something to help regenerate your environment instead of expecting someone else to do it for you!
Conrad, Reading

I'm afraid up here it's a "south and even-more-south" divide...
Mike Bidgood, Aberdeen, Scotland

The North-South divide is definitely still here. I'm currently looking for a graduate or equivalent job which pays enough money to be able to manage loan/overdraft repayments and actually have some quality of life. I can find nothing in the north-east. I am stuck with a choice of either working for a pittance in a service industry up here, or going down south, where I'll only just be able to afford to live, but where the career prospects are much better. Is it any wonder that graduates and professionals are moving south?
Dawn, Middlesbrough, UK

If the divide is as bad as ever, why are Northern house prices so high? When I moved from Bedford to Cornwall 7 years ago I could have got twice as much house in Northumberland - now I'm thinking of moving to Northumberland and the prices are very similar to Cornwall. Beats me!
Phil, Cornwall

I have lived in Manchester, worked in Newcastle and Hull, now I live and work in Nottingham. Everywhere you go you can see poverty, and queues of people outside job centres. Also the house prices are over half as much dearer down south. London has become a state within a state.
Keith Boon, Nottingham

I am unable to share in that wealth or prosperity
Paul Evans, Manchester, UK
I have seen my city of Manchester rise from the ashes of the IRA bomb in 1996 to the prosperous city it is today. It's a bit of a shame then, that as a locally-born resident, I am unable to share in that wealth or prosperity, thanks to the abundance of low-paid telesales jobs and overpriced apartment blocks designed to lure in overpaid southerners, celebrities and footballers into the city. Even our national TV stations have a southern bias, none more so than what used to be 'our' broadcaster - Granada TV - who have now virtually found a new home in London. Manchester-based radio stations play out whatever their London-based masters tell them to, and we have a council that appears to care more for the needs of southerners than they do for the 'native' Mancunian population. I am a 25-year-old Mancunian with a degree and no hope of securing a decent job in my own city.
Paul Evans, Manchester, UK

I agree that there is a divide, but what can be done about it is the question? I suspect that the introduction of regional assemblies (especially in the Northern regions) would provide a foundation for attracting further business, jobs and people to these great Northern towns and countryside.
Josephine Hughes, Manchester

Super-high house prices are forcing born-and-bred locals to move further and further away from the city
Ray Gillies-Jones, Chester, UK
My town is sinking into its own little puddle of south-east affluence. Super-high house prices are forcing born-and-bred locals to move further and further away from the city. Egged on by the south-east orientated media and its ceaseless belch of home/lifestyle 'makeover' features, is it any wonder that every homeowner in the land wants to be a property tycoon? Traditional jobs have all but gone - we are now a city of tourism and tele-marketing. Once big business marches into town, it finds cheap land, cheap labour, and cheap houses for its middle managers. In Chester, at least, there is no soul to the city anymore. I, for one, am utterly sick of it all. This northerner wants his city back!
Ray Gillies-Jones, Chester, UK

Although certain northern cities like Manchester and Glasgow have shown signs of recent recovery, the death of the heavy industries and the emergence of multinationals has ripped the country apart. London sees headquarters leaching to it from all over the UK as more companies are bought over. The government should act to make relocation at the expense of other areas an unattractive option for companies and keep jobs where they were created.
Gavin Winterbotham, Glasgow, UK

I am originally from Glasgow and been down here for 10 years and we definitely see most of my professional countrymen moving south. Furthermore my wife is South African and I believe that the majority of her peers are in London. They have tried to move to jobs further North but most of them migrate back to London, that's where all the jobs are for the 20 & 30 somethings.
Jonathan Bremner, London, UK

Not so much a divide, more of a chasm! That's why I'm reading this web page in Dubai and not my native Newcastle!
Phil Ritson, Dubai, U.A.E.

The quality of life is infinitely better up north
Adele, Yorkshire
To say there's a 'north-south divide' is over-simplifying the problem. I've recently moved from London to Yorkshire and have found that, for someone on an average income, the quality of life is infinitely better up north. Overall, the North is poorer and has less employment but at the same time, many of the 10 most deprived boroughs in the country are actually in central London.
Adele, Yorkshire

We've built the second largest financial centre, Canary Wharf, within sight of the first, the national stadium will be built at Wembley instead of the centre of the country. Even with the overcrowding in the south-east there are plans to develop the Thames Gateway, new runways at Heathrow and Stansted, Eurostar connections at Kings Cross and Stratford, the Olympic bid in East London. What is the government doing to stop the widening of the gap? Pouring petrol on the fire.
Kevin, Essex, England

I feel that there has been and always will be a divide. Despite being university educated, I chose to stay in the North East (my home) and buck the trend. I may not be on good wages, but I have a good life. I couldn't fancy working in London or the SE - people are too unfriendly and materialistic.
John Burn, Newcastle

A fantastic piece of research - I never knew my homeland, South Wales, was "up north" before. I've always known some poor souls down south think "north" means everything outside the M25 orbital, but I would have expected better from a northern university! My city, Cardiff, is regularly named in European surveys as one of the fastest-growing and most dynamic on the continent, but then I guess those researchers must have been handicapped by having the same map of the UK as me, and didn't know about our deprived "northern" status!
CN, Cardiff, UK

What about the Midlands? Northerners think we're soft Southerners, and Southerners think we're rough accented Northerners. We can't win! Northern accents are better than Southern ones by the way...
Lorraine, Rutland, UK

Yes the north/south divide does exist. However having lived in London, I live here in Leeds by choice, have a much better quality of life, less rushing around etc. And it seems I hear more and more London accents around me, which means that secretly we are being invaded by people from the South and I don't blame them.
Halim Chishtie, Leeds, England

My only regret is that I can't afford to buy a house down here
Irmani, Essex
I recently moved to the South East, having lived most of my life in the North of England - and I wouldn't go back. There were a number of reasons I wanted to come to the south - not least better wages, better career prospects, better leisure facilities and a better standard of living. My only regret is that I can't afford to buy a house down here...
Irmani, Essex

Of course there is a north/south divide. The south east and London in particular is the focus of civil service, government and the head offices of many employers. The question has to be why businesses don't make better use of modern telecoms advances and relocate out of the south east saving money on wages and building costs?
Alistair Reid, South Shields, Tyne and Wear

Despite Leeds being one of the so-called 'hotspots' of the north, I'd move back to London in an eye blink if I could only afford it. If you like an endless supply of identical clothes shops, deafening bars, cheap booze and mindless conversation then Leeds is your place.
Joe, Leeds, West Yorkshire

There are rich people and poor people wherever you go. Most important, however, is the quality of life. I know people who live in London and struggle, and people who are having the time of their lives 'up North'. There may be a severe economic divide in this country, but most people don't need high five figure incomes to live a happy life.
Peter Cooper, Sandilands, Lincolnshire

When Cornwall and Devon have some of the lowest wages in the country I fail to see how there can be a north-south divide. I grew up in Devon, but had to move to find work. My friends who stayed are all unable to afford local houses on their wages, due to the holiday home owners from the South East. Seems to me that the divide is between the South East and the rest of the country.
Mark E, "South" England

The poor are getting poorer
Jim Evans, Brighton, UK
It most certainly does exist, but not in a north-south divide, the divide is within the parameters of rich and poor. This is getting worse, the poor are getting poorer, as wages and salaries fall.
Jim Evans, Brighton, UK

Of course there is a north-south divide and there has been for a long time. As long as the bulk of the financial and all the political power are concentrated in London, there will continue to be a divide. A highly London-centric media doesn't exactly help matters either. It would be hard to believe for an outside observer of our media that anything happens in Britain outside London except crime and deprivation.
Ian, Edinburgh

The north-south divide has been exacerbated by the huge difference in house prices. Northerners simply cannot afford to relocate to the south of England. I think the government should control house prices so that honest hard-working first time buyers can afford a house.
Jon Perrin, UK

To say there is a north-south divide is misleading. I live in the South West and recent research shows that wages are around the lowest in the UK, we have awful road links and public transport and there are no NHS dentists taking new patients anywhere in South Devon.
Ryan Merchant, Paignton, Devon, UK

I wouldn't call it a north-south divide, more a London-and-the-south-east/rest of the UK divide. Gloucestershire is hardly the north, but we suffer a drain of resources to the over-heated south east.
John, Gloucestershire, UK

Is there a north south divide?
1723 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

Vote now closed


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