UK think-tank Onward has revealed a staggering gap between the north and south of the UK when it comes to the number of jobs that are easily reachable by car and public transport.
Mapping those jobs that can be reached within an hour’s drive or a 90-minute commute, researchers found that some parts of England are “so poorly connected” that people are able to access a smaller range of jobs within a five-mile radius.
In cities such as Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme, workers manage to access only three quarters of local jobs, while in London figures are seven times higher.
James Blagden, the report’s author, highlighted how the gap becomes starker when comparing cities of a similar size in different parts of the country such as Halifax and Mansfield versus Aldershot.
In Mansfield people can reach up to 246,857 jobs by using public transport, while numbers increase when considering Halifax and Aldershot, with respectively 581,857 and 1.2 jobs available.
Towns in the north-west and west Yorkshire are some of the most hit by the gap. People living in the Greater Manchester are able to access 90% of jobs within five miles, despite residing within the M60 motorway’s borders.
Blagden pointed out that the UK Government should take care of the transport gap also by considering other variables such as education, connectivity and the quality of jobs provided.
The report was backed up by the Levelling Up task force, which includes 65 Conservative MPs tasked with working on the government’s Levelling Up agenda.
“If we hope to improve our nation and truly level up, then we must acknowledge the role that robust connectivity plays in increasing productivity, lowering barriers for new businesses starting out, and in capturing opportunities missed,” said Simon Fell, MP for Barrow-in-Furness and task force member.
The Levelling Up agenda is part of the UK Government’s commitment to create viable opportunities in every part of the country, bringing investments and people to places other than London.
The £4.6bn Levelling Up fund to invest in infrastructure across the UK is one of the initiatives promoted by the government as part of the plan.