A ‘BRAIN drain’ is depriving the region of thousands of its talented young adults who flock to London instead, a report has warned.

Nearly 7,000 people moved to London from the four largest cities and towns in the North-East and North Yorkshire in just three years, official figures show.

And the majority of them were aged between 18 and 30 years old – sparking fresh claims that the economic recovery is creating a new North-South divide.

The Centre for Cities think-tank, which carried out the analysis, warned that all-powerful London was “sucking in talent from the rest of the country”.

And it urged ministers to finally make true on their promises to devolve more power and funding to English cities, to allow them to fight back.

Alexandra Jones, the organisation’s chief executive, said: “London is leading the recovery and its long-standing economic strength continues to attract talented workers.

“London's strength is a huge asset, but we need to make the most of our other cities' economic potential.”

The think-tank’s report notes that some English city-regions have bigger economies than Wales, yet enjoy none of the powers of the Cardiff Assembly.

It adds: “Why aren't other cities offering people enough opportunity to stay - and what can be done about it?”

The statistics show that, between 2009 and 2012, there was a net exodus of 6,860 people to London from the region’s four largest urban areas.

By far the biggest drain was from Newcastle (4,653), followed by York (860), Middlesbrough (834) and Sunderland (513).

Separate figures show that the majority of people moving to London, from anywhere in the country, are young adults – peaking at the age of 23.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Centre for Cities report also showed the capital powering far ahead of other cities in generating employment.

More than 215,000 private-sector jobs were created in London between 2010 and 2012 - four-fifths of the total for the whole of the UK.

In response, cities minister Greg Clark agreed that Britain’s cities were the “engines of growth” for the national economy.

But he argued the Government was already turning the corner through the ‘City Deals’ programme which, since 2012, had devolved power from London.

Mr Clark said: “It is essential to hand powers over to cities so that they can take control of their own destinies. Since then, the cities have gained momentum.”

However, the statistics also suggest that Newcastle is carrying out its own brain drain on its neighbouring urban centres.

The number of people who moved there from Middlesbrough (835) and Sunderland (637) was actually higher than the numbers flocking to the capital.