Public sector job losses hit the North East worst

19th June 2019

The North East has experienced the largest drop in public sector workers over the last decade, according to new analysis.

The figures from think tank IPPR North, which were based on the recent ONS employment statistics, show the north-east (covering Northumberland, County Durham and Tyne and Wear) lost 24% (72,000) of its public sector employees over the last decade.

The regions of West Midlands and the South East followed closely behind, with a 20% drop in the number of public sector workers between 2009 and 2019.

On the other hand, the East of England and London experienced the lowest cuts at 9%, further emphasising the divide between North and South.

Public sector employee change

The economy isn’t working for people the North East, and it isn’t working for the vast majority of people across the UK either,” said Chief Economist at IPPR and Head of the Centre for Economic Justice, Carys Roberts.

“We must demand a radical change in the way that our economy works, and who holds the power.

“As part of this, we need a new ‘economic constitution’ for the UK, devolving more powers to regions like the North. Only then will we begin to address the deep imbalances that affect people in the North East, because a fairer economy is a stronger economy.”

There are suggestions austerity has reshaped British society, with the total loss since 2009 of 824,000 public sector jobs simply reflecting a wider cultural shift.

IPPR correlated the drop in public sector jobs with the austerity measures introduced 10 years ago, where the budgets for local governments as well as social services such as welfare, police forces, roads, courts and prisons were all slashed. They also linked these reductions to the privatisation of services, the outsourcing of public roles as well as the closure of central government offices in the northern regions.

This week’s data comes in conjunction with previous IPPR North analysis, showing spending in the North as a whole has fallen by £6.3bn since austerity cuts were implemented following the global financial crisis in 2008. Again, this figure is the highest of any other region in England.

Number of public sector employees


Leading on from this, IPPR North will today hold an economic justice forum in Newcastle alongside the Commission on Economic Justice, welcoming citizens to engage with policymakers and community leaders on the challenges facing the UK economy.

This is the first in a series of events across the UK and will include newly elected North-of-Tyne mayor Jamie Driscoll. The ultimate goal of the forums is to raise awareness of how a fairer economy can be created — particularly for those regions in England that are often overlooked.

Sarah Longlands, Director of IPPR North says the aim is to spark a nationwide conversation about how to deliver economic justice for all people across the UK.

“We are delighted that the Centre for Economic Justice has chosen to join IPPR North in Newcastle. Despite the North East’s resilience, austerity has reaped untold damage on communities across the region.

“If we are serious about building a stronger northern economy, then we need to start by delivering greater economic justice to the people who live and work here.”

19th June 2019