The State of Britain

Abingdon in Oxfordshire and Portsea in Portsmouth are the wealthiest and poorest areas of the region, Thames Valley Berkshire LEP had the best productivity in the UK and the SE’s employment rate now top

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The ONS has published average household disposal income estimates for England and Wales in 2018. The incomes shown are after tax and housing costs are taken off.  The analysis has shown that 87% of local areas had an average household income of between £22,500 and £39,200; within this over a third were between £28,000 and £33,600.

Of the 50 areas with the highest total incomes, 41 were in London with the lowest incomes more widely spread geographically across England and Wales. The North East, East England, London, and the South East had no local areas in the bottom 50.

The wealthiest area in England and Wales was Mickleover in Derby, with incomes of £52,200 and the poorest was Highfield North in Leicester with £12,500. The two areas are 30 miles from each other and ranked 7200 places apart.

The wealthiest area of the SE was northern Abingdon in Oxfordshire with £44,900. This ranked the area 35th out of the 7,201 areas recorded. The poorest area of the region was the Portsea area of Portsmouth with £18,400. This area was ranked 6,337 out of the 7,201 areas recorded.

Unlike most regions of the UK, output per hour in the SE was above the UK average. Productivity in the SE was 9.1% above the norm which ranked the region second in the UK. The SE and London record high levels of hours worked and their high productivity pulls up the UK average so much that all other regions fall below it.

The ONS has now released data for a longer period and at a subregional level. This gives further insight into the SE’s performance.

Perhaps the most useful is the 2018 results for the 44 enterprise regions in the UK which comprise the 38 English local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) and six enterprise regions in Scotland, Wales and the border regions.

The region’s Thames Valley Berkshire LEP had the best productivity (in terms of hours and jobs) in 2018 at 35% above the UK average whereas the West Midland’s Black Country LEP at 24% below was the worst.

Eight of the 44 enterprise regions in the UK recorded productivity above the UK average; four of the SE’s seven LEPs were in this category. After Thames Valley Berkshire, the next best was Enterprise M3 ranked third at +20%, then Coast to Capital sixth at +5% followed by Solent eighth at +3%. Buckinghamshire Thames Valley LEP (-0.2%), Oxfordshire LEP (-4%) and the South East LEP (-7%) were ranked 9th, 14th and 18th.

In terms of productivity growth between 2010 and 2018 the Coventry and Warwickshire LEP was top with growth of 16%. Twelve economic regions recorded productivity levels lower in 2018 than 2010. The worst performer was the SE’s Buckinghamshire Thames Valley LEP which saw productivity drop by 11%.

More generally the SE’s results for productivity growth were mixed. With growth of 6%, Enterprise M3 was the eighth best in the UK, one place above Thames Valley Berkshire, and the Solent LEP was ranked 27th nationally with growth of 2%, Four of the region’s LEPs recorded productivity levels lower in 2018 than 2010; the South East at -0.2% was ranked 34th, four places above Coast to Capital LEP which recorded -1.5%. The -6% drop in productivity in Oxfordshire was only worse in Gloucestershire and, as mentioned above, in Buckinghamshire Thames Valley LEP.

Three of the SE’s four subregions recorded productivity above the UK average. Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire +17%, Hampshire and Isle of Wight +12% and Surrey, East and West Sussex +6%. Kent was just below at -3%.

At county level, led by North Hampshire (+44%), eleven of the SE’s economic regions recorded productivity above the UK average. The other ten areas dropped below the UK average, with East Sussex recording the lowest productivity at -27%.

The growth in hours worked between 2010 and 2018 in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire was 18%, beating Kent which recorded 11% and Surrey, East and West Sussex on 8%. In UK terms this level of growth was in the top half of the country’s 40 subregions with Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire ranked fifth. With growth of 6% Hampshire and Isle of Wight was ranked 34th.

If the increase in economic output is also factored in then the sub regional performances are mixed. Hampshire and Isle of Wight was ranked 20th in the UK with growth of 2%, one place above Surrey, East and West Sussex, with Kent placed 29th with 1% growth, one place above Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.

More data from the ONS showed unemployment in the region was 7,000 higher at 156,000 between November and January; the uplift of 0.1% took the overall rate to 3.2%. Northern Ireland had the lowest rate of 2.4%, the North East the highest with 6.2%, with the UK rate at 3.9%.

The South East finally overtook the South West and had the highest employment rate at 80% which compared with 79.9% in the SW; the UK rate was 76.5%. Over 4.7m are employed in the SE.

The SE’s average property price decreased by 1.2% to £320,700, which took the annual decrease to 0.5%. In comparison, UK prices decreased by 1.1% to £231,185 during January, an annual growth rate of 1.3%.