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Parts of South East remain Vulnerable to Economic Shocks

14 September 2010

Recent figures by released by Experian and the BBC demonstrate that the North-South divide is less simplistic than often portrayed.

The research shows a number of areas in the South East, including Hastings, Thanet, Gosport and Portsmouth fall within the least economically resilient areas in the UK. Specifically, Hastings and Thanet are placed within in the ten percent of the lowest overall rankings in the country, scoring low in most categories, including the proportion of high growth sectors, business birth rate, levels of unemployment and deprivation. Particular vulnerabilities can be seen along coastal areas where over 18 districts are seen as exposed to public sector cuts.

Areas such as Elmbridge and Waverley in Surrey are shown to be more able to withstand sudden changes in the economy.

The South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) is working to support the economic development of the South East. In 2009/10, the agency created or safeguarded over 10,000 jobs, 7,000 through inward investment work. Other success stories include the development of the Daedalus site on the Lee-on-Solent and the regeneration of Hastings and Bexhill where average earnings have risen from 68% of the regional average to 82% and considerable private sector investment has been levered into developments across the area.

Pam Alexander, Chief Executive of SEEDA, comments:

“While the South East remains at the heart of the UK economy we must look beyond clichés when considering the stark contrasts between prosperous and deprived areas. It is the case that parts of the South East have been unable to share in the general prosperity that much of the locality enjoys.  Our analysis indicates that places including Hastings, Thanet and other towns around the Hampshire, Kent and Sussex coast are as vulnerable to economic shocks as many places in the North and Midlands.

“SEEDA has done much to support these vulnerable local economies. It is time to look beyond headlines about the North/South divide and cuts in public sector expenditure to consider what can be done to maintain momentum in these vulnerable economies. I very much hope that new Local Enterprise Partnerships and the Government’s Regional Growth Fund will be able to support these areas in order that they are not left behind compared to stronger economic areas."

The Experian report was commissioned by BBC English Regions. It looks at places which are least resilient to economic shocks. The results are based on four categories, including business, community, people and place.

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