The State of Britain

Big job cuts forecast in the aviation sector and incomes in Monmouthshire the best in Wales

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The impact of the pandemic on the Welsh hospitality and aviation sectors has continued.

Carmarthenshire food wholesaler/processor Castell Howell Foods is considering job cuts as weekly sales are down 65% due to a drop in hospitality trade; 700 jobs are at risk.

Aerospace Wales, the body representing the industry, has warned that the pandemic could cost the sector up to 8,000 jobs. For example, the Unite union claims 240 jobs could be lost at the Magellan aerospace factory in Wrexham. The Canadian firm supplies components to companies like Airbus which has itself announced cut jobs.

Airbus has said its UK cuts would fall in the commercial aircraft division at its two sites at Broughton in Flintshire and Filton, Bristol; 1700 jobs are at risk.

In Powys, a Laura Ashley factory is to close next month, with the loss of 57 jobs. A management buyout of the Texplan warehouse and call centre in Newtown has been unsuccessful following the furniture and fashion chain’s collapse into administration in March.

More positively, plans to build a plasterboard factory at Newport Docks have been approved by the city council, creating 70 jobs with a further 130 jobs in the supply chain.. Associated British Ports (ABP) will set up the plant on vacant land to the south west of the port’s South Dock.

At Pembroke Dock, a £60m marine power project has been approved with 1,800 jobs expected to be generated over the next 15 years. The project will enable technology developers to test marine energy devices in the Milford Haven Waterway.

A £100m expansion at toilet tissue manufacturer WEPA’s Bridgend Paper Mill will also create 70 new jobs. The firm makes almost 2m loo rolls daily.

The Stats

This month the ONS published regional household disposal income figures for 2018. Total gross disposable household income (GDHI) in the UK in 2018 was £1.4bn. Of that, 86.3% was in England, 7.6% was in Scotland, 3.8% was in Wales and 2.3% was in Northern Ireland.

The average UK income per head after direct and indirect taxes were taken off was £21,109.  England was the only country above the UK average at £21,609 but growth in incomes was best in Scotland and Northern Ireland at 5.1% and 4.7%. England’s growth was the same as the UK at 4.6%; Wales grew by 4.4%.

At a regional level, London had the highest GDHI per head where, on average, each person had £29,362 available to spend or save; the North East had the lowest at £16,995 which compares with a UK average of £21,109. Wales had £17,100.

At a local level, Kensington and Chelsea and Hammersmith and Fulham had the highest GDHI per head at £63,286 with Nottingham the lowest at £13,138. All the top 10 local areas were in London or the South East with the bottom 10 within the North West, Yorkshire and The Humber, East Midlands, West Midlands, and Northern Ireland regions.

The wealthiest part of Wales was Monmouthshire and Newport with incomes of £18,896. This ranked the area 100th out of 179 districts of the UK. In comparison, the lowest incomes in London were in Barking at £20,673.

The poorest areas of the country were Gwent Valleys at £15,587, lower than Swansea at £15,755. Gwent Valleys was ranked 167th in the UK, Nottingham and Leicester were bottom.

In terms of regional growth, the largest increase was in London at 5.2% with the smallest in the East Midlands at 3.6%. Wales grew by 4.4%.

At the local level, Kensington & Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham was again best in the UK with growth of 7.6% whereas Luton was the worst and only grew by 0.9%.

In Wales, income growth in Flintshire and Wrexham was top at 5.6% with Powys second at 5.5%. Gwent Valleys was again the worst regional performer with growth of 2.9%, a ranking of 163rd.


More data from the ONS showed unemployment in the country fell by 4,000 to 47,000 between February and April; the drop of 0.3% took the rate to 3.0%. Despite narrowing the gap with the West Midlands (4.8%), at 5.2% the North East was still the highest; Northern Ireland had the lowest rate of 2.3%, with the UK rate at 3.9%.

The South East had the highest employment rate again at 79.5% which compared with 74.4% in Wales where 1.5m are employed; the UK rate was 76.4%.

Public sector employment in Wales increased by 1.3% in March to 297.000, which was 21.0% of the workforce. At 25.2% Northern Ireland had the highest level of public sector employment which compared to 13.9% in London which was the lowest.

In March, average earnings in Wales fell by £18 to £548 per week. London had the highest average earnings of £847 and the lowest average earnings of £537 were recorded in Northern Ireland.

Earnings in the NE increased the most in the UK by £60 per week whereas the biggest drop in wages was £37 in Scotland.

In the UK overall, average earnings grew by 1.7% or by 0.4% after inflation. If bonuses are included real pay fell by 0.4%.

The public sector saw the highest estimated growth, at 3.2% for regular pay, while negative growth was seen in the construction sector, estimated at negative 1.8%. Both the wholesaling, retailing, hotels and restaurants sector and the manufacturing sector saw very weak growth at 0.1% for regular pay.


Estimates of private sector rents for the year to March 2020 were published by the ONS this month.

The median monthly rent was an all time high of £700 in England between 1 April 2019 and 31 March 2020. London had the highest median monthly rent at £1,425 with the North East the lowest at £495. Within local authorities the difference in monthly rental price between the most and least expensive was nearly £2,100.

Data for the 12 months to May 2020 showed private rental prices paid by tenants in the UK rose by 1.5%, unchanged from the previous month. Rental prices grew by 1.5% in England, 1.2% in Wales and 0.6% in Scotland.

Rental prices increased the most in the South West of England, up by 2.5%, with the lowest price growth in the North East of England at 0.8%, Wales recorded 1.2%.

Given the closure of the housing market following lockdown the ONS has suspended its property price index until further notice.