Headlines: October 30th, 2009

The public sector in the North East is not having any impact on the region’s poverty in spite of the fact that it is working well and meeting the targets set for it by central government. A report from the Commission on Public Service Reform in the region says top down targets have failed to narrow the gap because economic inequality is deeply rooted.

The report from the Commission, set up by ippr north, shows that across a number of indicators, including unemployment, entry to further education, and life expectancy, the North East still lags behind other parts of the country.  While high performing public services have helped to prevent greater hardship during the recession they have not had a significant impact on the economic fundamentals. 

The Commission sets out an argument for greater freedom for public services in the North East to control their own affairs in setting long-term goals, making decisions about public finances and working with private businesses and the Third Sector.

Ed Cox, Director of ippr North, said: “Given the amount of investment in public services in the North East, the fact that the region still lags behind other parts of the UK might suggest the money has been badly spent.  In fact, the Commission found that the public sector was performing very well against the targets set for it. But this is part of the problem.” The region needed to get to grips with deep-rooted economic issues, he said and added: “In order to meet that challenge the region needs more control over its own destiny.”