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Equality gap widens between cities

The gap between the economic performance of cities across the UK is widening, with six times more dole claimants in some parts of the country than others, a new study has revealed.

Private companies were struggling to create enough jobs to boost the economy or counter cuts in the public sector, but the picture was playing out "very differently" in cities, said research group Centre for Cities.

Its report showed that the gap in the claimant count rate between Hull and Cambridge had doubled to 6.1% over the past four years while parts of Rochdale had six times more claimants than Cambridge.

Cities with less dynamic private sectors, such as Hull, Doncaster and Newport in South Wales, will find it more challenging to offset the weak national economy and continuing cuts in the public sector, the report said.

Cities which were said to have performed well include Edinburgh, Cambridge and London, which have high numbers of skilled residents and those working in professions such as law, finance and accountancy.

The research suggested "glimmers of hope" from some cities this year, with Milton Keynes and Aberdeen identified as being well-placed to drive the national economic recovery.

Alexandra Jones, chief executive of Centre for Cities, said: "The year ahead is going to be tough for all UK cities but Cities Outlook 2012 shows that some cities are well-placed to kickstart economic growth. However, some cities have been hit particularly hard by recession and the gap between cities is widening.

"This makes it vital that Government policy is tailored to meet the needs of each city rather than one-size-fits-all. What is right for Brighton and Reading will not be right for Dundee and Middlesbrough.

"During 2012 cities should take the lead in shaping their local economies and the Government should give them the financial and political powers they need to make the right decisions for growth.

"Where cities face greater social and economic challenges, the Government should offer support to help places adapt and respond to a rapidly changing global economy."

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