People’s life chances increasingly restricted by their postcode

Published: 09 May 2019

Fairness and equality is a stark postcode lottery in England with those living in the North East, North West and West Midlands often being far worse off than those living in the rest of the country.

Our new report reveals not only a nation deeply divided by income, gender and race – but also a widening geographical divide.

The report, Is England Fairer?, found that education, health, employment and living standards are significantly worse in certain areas. For example:

  • the proportion of people not in employment, training or education was almost twice as high in the West Midlands and North East as it is in the South
  • the poverty rate experienced by ethnic minorities was over 10% higher in the North West and North East than in the South

However, we also identified areas where regions performed well, such as low waiting times for health services in the North of England and vast improvements in early years education attainment in the North East.

Our Deputy Chair Caroline Waters has called on local authorities, business leaders and charities to help close these gaps by sharing information with each other and joining our new regional network for England. She said:

'Where you grow up should not determine your outcome in life. We are living in an increasingly divided society where opportunities in London and the South-East are vastly greater than in the North East, North West and West Midlands.

'As the country grapples with Brexit, it’s more important than ever that we address the fractures in our society and ensure opportunities are shared fairly across the country.

'We’re seeing an increasing push to devolve power and build better infrastructure outside London.

'Local Mayors, councils, charities and businesses are uniquely placed to ensure that this is fair growth and doesn’t leave anyone behind.

'Equality across England isn’t out of reach but different regions must work with and not against each other.

'Organisations in all areas of England have something to share and by combining their experience and expertise, we have a much better chance of improving life outcomes for everyone, no matter where they live.'

Examples of regional inequality in the report include:

  • life expectancy is higher in the South than in the North and Midlands
  • rates of people not in employment, training or education in the West Midlands and North East are almost double those in the South East and South West
  • employment rates were lowest in the North East, with half of disabled people experiencing severe material deprivation
  • ethnic minorities in the North West and North East experience particularly high rates of poverty – child poverty rates are also high in the North East and London
  • the North East and East Midlands have some of the highest percentages of ethnic minorities in insecure employment
  • the West Midlands and the North East had significantly lower rates of people reporting good health than most other regions
  • the North East and the West Midlands had the lowest proportion of adults engaging in learning activities
  • the North East had the highest suicide rate in the country

The full report is available on our website. 

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