Centre for Cities report highlights low wage challenge facing Suffolk and Norfolk

Chris Starkie of New Anglia LEP.

Chris Starkie of New Anglia LEP. - Credit: Archant

East Anglia’s poor pay packets have been laid bare in a new report warning of the huge challenge the Chancellor faces in creating a “high wage, low welfare” economy.

Weekly pay in Norwich and Ipswich was among the lowest of 62 major cities and towns studied by the think-tank Centre for Cities.

Its 2016 outlook came in the wake of a vow by Chancellor George Osborne to build a higher wage, low-welfare economy last year.

Alexandra Jones, chief executive of Centre of Cities said that while both Norwich and Ipswich had seen strong jobs growth in recent years, and had also had lower than average welfare spending, average wages had decreased significantly since 2010, so the challenge for both cities was to strengthen their local economies.

But Chris Starkie, managing director of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, which covers Suffolk and Norfolk, said the report highlighted the many strengths of the economy in Suffolk and Norfolk and shows that they were are moving in the right direction.

“In Ipswich and Norwich the levels of unemployment continue to fall, Norwich is shown to be one of the best cities for low unemployment, and both areas are making big leaps forwards in terms of wage growth with increases of 2.5% in Norwich 1.6% in Ipswich – beating the national average of 1.3%.

“But we know that average weekly wages are still lower than the national average and while our economy may be worth nearly £34billion, larger than many of the major northern cities, our focus for 2016 is on improving productivity and boosting high value jobs, which will both help deliver higher wages. We are helping realise this through our investments in new roads, college centres and innovation hubs as well as supporting the thousands of SMEs across the East.”