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  1. ITV Report

Inquiry to look into the north/south divide and how to "bridge the gap"

The south accounts for a substantial proportion of the UK's economic performance Credit: PA Images

A new inquiry is being launched that will look at regional imbalances in the UK economy.

The inquiry will have two strands to it. One strand looking at the regional imbalances and the other assessing how data is used to see if there is any merit in producing regional economic forecasts.

Catherine Mckinnell, the Labour MP for Newcastle North and a member of the Treasury Select Committee, said the UK economy is one of "the most imbalanced in Europe" and that had to be addressed.

She told ITV Tynes Tees: "Everything seems to be concentrated in the south and there's a lot of concern about this north/south divide in our economy.

Citing the reasons for the imbalance she said the Treasury Select Committee, in conversations with the Chancellor and other officials, had found that no regional economic data was currently being collected.

This, she said, led to a lack of precise policies to help the North East develop economically.

We don't actually collect data, economic data, on a regional basis. Often the Treasury looks at our economic performance as a country as a whole, rather than on a regional basis.

So it's no wonder that we don't have the right policies in place and the right funding streams, and the right strategies, available to actually bridge that gap.

– Catherine Mckinnell, Labour MP for Newcastle North

Nicky Morgan MP, a former Education Secretary and Chair of the Treasury Select Committee, said the UK had clear "disparities" between different areas.

She said: "Members of the Treasury Committee represent constituencies from all over the country. What has become abundantly clear during my time as Chair are the disparities and differences that exist between the areas we represent.

Whether it be a divide between north and south, towns and cities, or urban and rural, people experience the chasm which exists between various parts of the UK through their day to day lives.

For example, differences not just in economic growth and income, but also in health and educational outcomes and the quality of infrastructure.

– Nicky Morgan MP, Chair of the Treasury Select Committee

The government says it is "refreshing its Northern Powerhouse strategy - improving digital connectivity and investing in the biggest road and railway programme in generations.

The Treasury Select Committee will be accepting written evidence on its website until August 2 as part of the inquiry.