Lincoln won’t weather public spending cuts

Lincoln’s economy is highly vulnerable to the public spending austerity cuts expected to be announced by the government later this year, claims a new report.

The city is positioned in the bottom 100 rankings of “economic resilience” in a nationwide report by Experian, commissioned by the BBC.

Rated 250 out of 324 most economically resilient places in the country, Lincoln has problems with housing, crime, and unemployment, the report says.

The review found “average house prices are low, the crime rate is high,” and “a high proportion of the population claim unemployment benefits,” in Lincoln.

Also, “a high proportion of the workforce are low skilled,” and “there’s a low level of social cohesion,” according to the report, part of the State of the Region project.

State of the Region used metrics such as types of industry, levels of self-employment, qualifications, and house prices to judge an area’s prospects for stability.

“If there are public sector cuts, you will see the impact quickly on the area in a lack of spending power in the local economy,” Simon Beardsley, Chief Executive of the Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce, told BBC News.

No area Lincolnshire made it into the top 100 most resilient. The highest rated in the county was South Kesteven at 118, and North East Lincolnshire was the lowest at 312.

Empty shop premises

There are currently 498 empty commercial premises in Lincoln, according to figures obtained from a freedom of information request put forward by The Lincolnite.

The City of Lincoln Council, the University of Lincoln, the Lincolnshire County Council, and Brookwide, hold a majority of these empty commercial spaces.

These empty properties have a joint current rateable value of over £6,770,000, and are proof of the effect of the global economic downturn on Lincoln’s businesses.

Promises of change

Both the City of Lincoln Council and Lincolnshire Police have partially commented on some of the points the report touched on.

“Clearly there are challenging times ahead not only for the police, but for the public sector in general,” said Jemma Peacock, spokesperson for Lincolnshire Police.

“However as always Lincolnshire Police will continue to use the resources available to them in the most efficient way in order to tackle crime,” she added.

“The City Council is committed to supporting Lincoln people through and out of the economic downturn, which will enhance community cohesion,” said Councillor Marc Jones, Deputy Leader of the City of Lincoln Council.

“There’s a lot of work going on in Lincoln — through the City Council and other organisations — to improve community cohesion.

“We have extended our Neighbourhood Working programme so it now includes Moorland, Park, Abbey and St Giles wards.

“This has resulted in many positive initiatives and events in those areas, including local action groups, clubs, training schemes, successful funding bids and big events.”

Photo: Melissa Gray