As the UK narrowly avoided a recession in the last quarter of 2022 and inflation has exacerbated the cost of daily essentials, it is becoming clear that the cost of living crisis is affecting some more than others. Those living in poorer areas seem to be affected the most and as the wealth gap between the Southwest and Northeast is over £150,000 it begs the question, why is the North so much poorer than the South?


The idea of a North-South divide has been contentious for almost a millennium. Since the Harrying of the North in 1069- a heinous military campaign led by William the Conqueror- the North has been poorer than the South. Over three-quarters of the northern population was wiped out: Some historians claim this was ‘proportionally’ the largest genocide in history. Estate values were reduced by as much as 200% and many areas of land in the North are infertile today due to the event. As the North was attempting to recover, places like London became increasingly richer and suffice to say the North has never returned to its former glory: Even during the industrial revolution the North was not as powerful as it was eight centuries prior.


Over the last few decades, politicians have disregarded the North. Under Thatcher's government, there was a huge Northern decline as she oversaw the contraction of the manufacturing industry. She justified the rise in the expansion of southern industry by stating, "If we try to discourage development and economic growth in large parts of the south of England, in the hope that it will happen in the large cities in the north, we risk losing them altogether.". What’s more, with the breaking down of the red wall in the 2019 general election it has become clear that northerners have become disillusioned by the Labour party and have no hope in them to restore Northern power.


The lack of infrastructure, the quality of education and general facilities have also ensured that those in the north are less likely to succeed than their southern counterparts. In terms of education, 10.2% more students achieved the top GCSE grades(7-9) in London compared to the Northeast in 2022. Regarding life expectancy, those living in Surrey can expect to live over two decades longer than those in Blackpool. This demonstrates that a divide is still pertinent within the UK.


Yet as many southern students begin to migrate north after university due to the increasing job opportunities in Northern cities and as the country is on the precipice of becoming more connected via HS2 the idea of a Northern powerhouse may become a reality. Therefore the North-South divide may slowly be evaporating.


The animosity towards the South is not entrenched in the minds of the youth. When asked about the issue the seventeen-year-old student Kuziva M from Manchester commented, ‘The north and south divide in the UK? I wouldn’t think it’s much of an issue. Like I don’t know much about it’.


Whereas the sixty-four-year-old Mancunian Pat A stated, ‘ New technology is still concentrated on London and the transition has been hindered by unequal financial support in the North. The general feeling is still that we are poorer and have a lower standard of living in the North’.


So when considering why the North is poorer than the South and why we are being more affected by the cost of living crisis it is worth asking ourselves whether this one-thousand-year issue can be rectified in our lifetime.