Sunderland in top 10 for ‘low wage, high welfare’ economies

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Sunderland has been placed fifth in a chart showing the top 10 ‘low wage, high welfare economies’.

The findings came about from a report, called Cities Outlook 2016, completed by Centre for Cities.

It looked at the average weekly salary for 63 cities within the UK.

Sunderland has an average weekly salary of £416, compared to the Great Britain average of £504.

The report also looked at the welfare spend per head and in Sunderland, the welfare spend per head for 2014 to 2015 was £3,924. This is compared to the Great Britain average of £3,358, in 2014 to 2015.

In the report, cities where average wages are higher than the national average, and welfare spending is lower, are categorised as ‘high wage, low-welfare’.

Places where average wages are below the national average, but welfare spending is above, are classed as ‘low-wage, high-welfare’.

Alexandra Jones, Chief Executive of Centre for Cities, said: “Cities Outlook 2016 highlights the size of the challenge facing the Government in building a high-wage, low-welfare economy, and the importance of supporting and empowering UK cities in order to make that vision a reality.

“One of the most pressing issues is the need to tackle skills-gaps and improve schools attainment, especially in low-wage cities, to help those places attract businesses and jobs, and support more people to move into work, particularly in high-skill sectors.

“This should be a key part of the Government’s Northern Powerhouse initiative alongside investment in infrastructure and a top priority for local leaders.

For cities which have seen strong growth in wages and jobs, the focus should be on addressing housing shortages, to ensure that their success is not derailed by a lack of affordable homes.

“Cities also need more powers and incentives to boost jobs and wages. Giving places control over skills and welfare budgets, and allowing them to keep any savings made by reducing the welfare bill, would incentivise local leaders to invest in employment programmes that, if successful, would reduce people’s need for benefits payments.

“Further devolution would also enable local leaders to make spending decisions which better meet the needs of their communities and give them more incentives to drive economic growth.”

Cities Outlook is the authoritative annual economic index of the UK’s 63 largest cities and towns.

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