Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting TANEWS to 80360, or email
Quality of life in Bradford is the worst in the UK - survey
The recession has left people in Bradford with the lowest quality of life of any major UK city, research published today claims.
Low wages, falling value of houses and high unemployment means household purses are squeezed more tightly here than in any other big city, researchers say.
They have placed Bradford last in a new Quality of Living Index which rates the country’s 12 largest cities.
Bradford South MP Gerry Sutcliffe said this showed how the so-called ‘cost of living crisis’ was hitting local people hard, while Bradford West MP George Galloway said it was clear the city was “in the epicentre of the depression” and demanded a Government rescue plan.
The index was compiled by Opinium Research on behalf of the finance comparison website MoneySupermarket.
Researchers crunched the numbers from a range of sources, including average salaries, unemployment levels, changes in house prices, the local cost of living and the Government’s annual ‘happiness index’, before giving each city an overall ‘quality of living’ score.
According to the researchers, Bradfordians enjoy lower living costs than those in many other cities – paying half the average rent of Londoners, for instance but this was outweighed by their woes, which include low average wages, unemployment levels of 11 per cent and falling house prices.
Sheffield and Birmingham were named as second and third worst cities respectively, while Bristol has the UK’s best quality of living, followed by Edinburgh and Cardiff.
Mr Sutcliffe (Lab) said: “Clearly, what’s concerning about this is that it shows the cost of living is increasing in Bradford, which is something we have been saying for a while, and that people need to have a better standard of living through higher wages.”
Mr Sutcliffe called on Bradford Council to “take the lead” and introduce the living wage, currently £7.45 per hour, for its lowest-paid staff.
When asked about Bradford being placed last in the ratings, he said: “It doesn’t surprise me. It confirms there is too wide a range of incomes in Bradford, from those who are affluent and on higher salaries to those earning below the living wage.”
Mr Galloway (Respect) said: “It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that Bradford is in the epicentre of the depression, although a few more rocket scientists and jobs for them would be welcome.
“This is a long-standing structural problem and governments present and past are to blame. Bradford needs jobs and it needs a hugely-improved education system, so that we are producing well-qualified young people to fill those – at present mythical – jobs.”
Mr Galloway said he was sick of “cover-ups and political PR spin” which glossed over the “dire situation here and in the wider region”.
“I hope my local parliamentary colleagues will join me in demanding of ministers a rescue plan for our city and region and the necessary investment to trigger it.”
But Bradford East MP David Ward (Lib Dem) said he was not convinced by the report’s findings, and argued that it was not only financial matters that contributed to people’s quality of life.
He said: “What this looks at is disposable income, as if disposable income is the only measure of quality of life.”
Mr Ward said in his view, the fact other criteria hadn’t been included rendered the league table “pretty meaningless”.
He added: “If you are unemployed or on a low income then this probably won’t apply, but there are lots of people who love being in Bradford and wouldn’t dream of moving to Bristol, or anywhere else for that matter.”
Mr Ward said one of his main concerns was reducing the gap which had opened up between those who had “lost their jobs or are struggling on low incomes”, compared with those who were in secure employment and were enjoying low mortgage rates, who he said had “done pretty well out of the recession”.
Councillor David Green, leader of Labour-controlled Bradford Council, said such reports as this could be damaging to the city in themselves.
He said: “Everybody knows that, in particular, northern English cities have been hit harder by Government policy and the recession than other areas of the country – that has been evidenced by reports that have come out over the last three years – so that part of it doesn’t surprise me.”
But he warned “this sort of league table” could make businesses think twice about relocating to the city.
He said: “I also think that people need to look at other statistics, such as the ones about Bradford being one of the most entrepreneurial cities in the country.
“We know, because we live here, that it is surrounded by countryside, and by places of real cultural interest.
“It’s got the fastest-growing young population outside London. All of these things are not included in this report.”
Coun Glen Miller, leader of the Council’s Conservative group, was also critical of the report.
He said: “Rather than just looking at stats, stats and more stats from some nice office elsewhere, these people should come to the region and see that the vast majority of people are happy and get on.
“People can knock Bradford as often as they want but Bradford is an excellent place to live both for businesses and individuals.”
Coun Miller said he did not think Bradford had been hit harder than any other UK city by the recession.
He said: “No, I don’t think so. We have got two cranes on the skyline, there is work going on, what more can you ask for? And when the Westfield development opens, I’m sure everyone will be clamouring to open a business here.”
Coun Jeanette Sunderland, Liberal Democrat group leader, said: “We have historically had, in some parts of the district, a low-wage economy but that doesn’t excuse the lack of progress.”
She said much of the blame could be attributed to the delays to Westfield’s Broadway shopping centre.
She said: “Westfield has made a commitment to be on site by the end of the year and it must deliver.
“We are in a Catch-22 situation – this sort of negative stuff keeps being printed because we are not making the progress we should be doing. What I say to Westfield is, ‘get over the wire’. They said they would make a start by the end of the year. Let’s see it.”
Comments are closed on this article.