The urban-regeneration specialist John Houghton, who grew up there, can reel off the factories that employed locals: Schweppes, Murray Mints, Delco the car-parts maker and Ford\’s Halewood plant. Most of those disappeared long ago, and the others have shrunk severely.
From its industrial heyday, Kirkby has become one of the most deprived parts of the country. More than 12% of the available workforce in the borough of Knowsley, which Kirkby is part of, are out of a job, as compared with 8% in the rest of the north-west. Of those in a job, about one in three work for the public sector. The other big local employers are call centres: typically neither as high-paying nor as secure as the old industrial employment.
Given that call centre employment exists and the old industrial employment does not I\’d rather think that, by definition, the call centre employment is more secure.