The State of Britain

EE

The EE economy shrinks by 6.1% following lockdown and data for a pre-pandemic period shows an earlier Brexit contraction with a big decline in production

Reading Time: 3 minutes

A nowcast for the EE for the 12 months ended June 2020 on a rolling 4 quarter basis, published by the Economic Statistic Centre of Excellence (‘ESCoE’), has estimated that the EE economy contracted by 6.1%.

This ranked the EE sixth in the UK and suggests the regional economy has so far coped ‘reasonably’ with the pandemic relative to the other eleven UK ‘regions’. Over the same period the East Midlands was ‘best’ with a fall of 4.5%, with London’s 7.4% contraction the ‘worst’; the UK decline according to the Office for National Statistics (‘ONS’) figures was 5.3%.

ESCoE is a partnership of research institutions and the ONS and has highlighted that during these unprecedented times, there is no historical data that their model can use to fully understand how the pandemic will impact regional economies. Consequently the partnership emphasises the uncertainties that exist with their nowcast at this time.

ONS GDP to December 2019

Official ONS figures for an earlier period which reflects Brexit uncertainty rather than Covid 19 turmoil, show the region’s performance relative to other parts of the UK. Following its first publication of quarterly GDP estimates for the regions in September 2019, the ONS has now published its fifth estimate for the EE, the other eight English regions, and Wales.  GDP figures have been available for the UK since the 1940s, for Scotland since 2002 and Northern Ireland since 2013.

These stats are for the period six months before ESCoE’s estimates shown above and compare GDP in the quarter ended December 2019 with the same quarter a year earlier. These showed that EE growth was flat, an uplift on -0.1% the previous quarter. This placed the EE sixth (previous ranking tenth) out of the twelve UK ‘regions’.

London topped the table with growth of 5% whilst UK growth over the same period was 0.9%. The West Midlands was again the worst performer and contracted by 2.7%. The North East, Wales, East Midlands and the North West were the other ‘regions’ in the UK to suffer a decline.

In the same report, the ONS’s figures highlighted that the standalone quarter to December 2019 showed a worsening picture in the EE with the data poorer than the previous quarter. The EE economy contracted by 0.4% in October to December 2019, following +1% in July to September 2019.

This placed the EE sixth (previous ranking fourth) out of the twelve UK ‘regions. The EE was one of seven regions of the UK that saw their economies contract but overall UK growth was flat.

The SW was top with quarterly growth of 0.8% whilst the North East was bottom, posting a drop of 1.3%.

In this period, the EE’s best sector was electricity with growth of 5% but information fell by 7.2%. Overall production was -1.2%, construction +0.3%, services -0.4% and agriculture -0.3%.

Labour

Data from the ONS showed the Job Retention Scheme continued to depress unemployment across the UK. Unemployment in the region was 2,000 higher at 122,000 between April and June; the uplift of 0.1% took the rate to 3.8%. At 5.2% the North East was the highest; Northern Ireland had the lowest rate of 2.5%, with the UK rate at 3.9%.

The South East had the highest employment rate at 79.7%, this compared with 71.7% in Northern Ireland and 77.9% in the EE where 3.1m are employed; the UK rate was 76.4%.

Housing

The EE’s average property price increased by 1.5% in April 2020 to £295,640. The uplift took the annual increase to 2.7%. In comparison, UK prices dropped by 0.2% to £234,612 during April, an annual growth rate of 2.6%.

The ONS data is based on completed housing transactions. Typically, a house purchase can take 6 to 8 weeks to reach completion so the price data in the April figures will therefore reflect those completions that occurred before lockdown.

This is the first publication of the UK HPI since it was suspended in May 2020. The UK Property Transactions Statistics for April 2020 showed that that between March 2020 and April 2020, transactions decreased by 55.5%.

Regional airports continue to be impacted by the pandemic, incomes in Southend show strong growth but Luton a UK outlier

Reading Time: 4 minutes

EasyJet has begun a consultation on plans to close bases at Stansted and Southend. The airline had previously said that it may need to reduce staff numbers by up to a third because of the pandemic. Unions say the jobs of c1,300 UK crew members and 727 of its UK-based pilots are at risk.

Swissport UK, which provides support services at Luton and Stansted, also plans to cut 4,556 jobs from a total workforce of 8,500. Swissport provides ground handling for TUI and Ryanair at Luton.

Norwich based Bertram Books has appointed administrators. More than 450 employees at the book wholesaler are set to lose their jobs Also in the city, c75% of Norwich Theatre’s workers are at risk of redundancy. With the theatre’s income down by 95%, 113 employees were told their roles could be cut with a further 59 workers on zero-hours contracts informed they would receive no further work. The group which runs Norwich Theatre Royal, the Playhouse and Stage Two said a formal process of consultation with all staff would now begin.

More positively, a 168-bedroom hotel is to be built at the site of the Imperial War Museum in Duxford. The six-storey, L-shaped hotel, which will feature a gym, bar and dining area and employ 40 staff, will form part of a complex which already boasts a conference centre. It is expected to open to guests in spring 2022.

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. The EE was third with £22,205.

At a local level, Kensington and Chelsea and Hammersmith and Fulham district 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 the EE was Hertfordshire with incomes of £27,072. This ranked the area 16th out of 179 districts of the UK. The poorest areas of the region were Luton at £16,257, beating Norwich at £17,907. Luton was ranked 155th 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%. EE growth was 4.9%.

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

In the EE, income growth in Southend was the fourth highest in the UK at 6.5% with West Essex a regional second at 6.0%. Luton was the worst regional and UK performer with growth of 0.9%, a ranking of 179th.

Labour

More data from the ONS showed unemployment in the region was 7,000 higher at 118,000 between February and April; the uplift of 0.2% took the rate to 3.6%. 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 78.0% in the EE where 3.1m are employed; the UK rate was 76.4%.

Public sector employment in the EE increased by 1.4% in March to 423.000, which was 15.1% 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 the EE fell by £15 to £653 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.

Housing

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.

In the EE rental prices ranged from £595 to £1,000 with £795 the median.

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, up by 2.5%, with the lowest price growth in the North East at 0.8%, the EE recorded 1.7%.

According to the ONS the South West is also projected to have the highest regional rate of growth in households over the next ten years, at 9%. This compares with 7.2% in the EE and 4.3% in the NE (the lowest).

Overall the number of households in England is projected to increase by 1.6m (7.1%) from 23.2m in 2018 to 24.8m in 2028. The EE is forecast to have 2.7m households by 2028.

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

The East of England economy shrinks by 1.8% following lockdown and pre-pandemic data also shows an earlier small contraction

Reading Time: 3 minutes

A quarterly nowcast for the EE for the 3 months ended March 2020 which captures the start of lockdown, published by the Economic Statistic Centre of Excellence (‘ESCoE’), has estimated that the EE economy contracted by 1.8%. ESCoE is a partnership of research institutions and the Office for National Statistics (‘ONS’).

This ranked the EE sixth and suggests the regional economy has so far coped averagely with the pandemic relative to the other eleven ‘regions’ of the UK. Over the same period the East Midlands was ‘best’ with a fall of 1% with Northern Ireland’s 3.9% contraction the ‘worst’; the UK decline was 2%.

For the 12 months ended March 2020 on a rolling 4 quarter basis, ESCoE has estimated that EE growth has dropped from 2.1% to 1.4%.

This ranked the EE second (previous ranking also second) and suggests the region has held its position relative to the other eleven parts of the UK. Over the same period UK growth was 0.5%; growth in London (ranked first) was 1.8%; and growth in the East Midlands (ranked twelfth) was -0.6%.

ONS GDP to September 2019

Official ONS figures for an earlier period which reflect Brexit uncertainty rather than Covid 19 turmoil, show the region also holding its position relative to other parts of the UK. Following its first publication of quarterly GDP estimates for the regions in September 2019, the ONS has now published its fourth estimate for the EE, the other eight English regions, and Wales.  GDP figures have been available for the UK since the 1940s, for Scotland since 2002 and Northern Ireland since 2013.

These stats are for the period six months before ESCoE’s estimates shown above and compare GDP in the quarter ended September 2019 with the same quarter a year earlier. These showed the EE contracted by 0.1%, an improvement on -0.5% the previous quarter. This placed the EE tenth (previous ranking eleventh) out of the twelve UK ‘regions’.

London topped the table with growth of 5% whilst UK growth over the same period was 1.2%. The West Midlands was the worst performer and contracted by 1.5%. The East of England and the NW were the other two ‘regions’ in the UK to suffer a decline.

In the same report, the ONS’s figures also highlighted that the standalone quarter to September 2019 showed an improving picture in the EE with the data better than the previous quarter. The EE economy grew by 0.9% in July to September 2019, following -0.4% in April to June 2019.

This placed the EE fourth (previous ranking seventh) out of the twelve UK ‘regions’. Four regions of the UK that saw their economies contract but overall the UK grew by 0.5%.

Again London was top with quarterly growth of 1.4% whilst the North West, South East and Northern Ireland all contracted by 0.2% with the East Midlands posting a drop of 0.3%.

In this period, the EE’s best sector was water supply with growth of 12.1% but the wholesale/retail sector fell by 4%. Overall services grew by 0.5% and production by 4.2% but construction fell by 0.2% and agriculture by 0.5%.

Labour

More largely pre-pandemic data from the ONS showed unemployment in the region was 12,000 higher at 120,000 between January and March; the uplift of 0.4% took the rate to 3.7%. At 5.4% the North East was the highest; Northern Ireland had the lowest rate of 2.4%, with the UK rate at 3.9%.

The South East had the highest employment rate at 80.2% which compared with 78% in the EE where 3.1m are employed; the UK rate was 76.6%.

Housing

The EE’s average property price was unchanged over the month at £291,254. This meant the annual increase was 1.6%. In comparison, UK prices dropped by 0.2% to £231,855 during March, an annual growth rate of 2.1%.

The ONS data is based on completed housing transactions. Typically, a house purchase can take 6 to 8 weeks to reach completion so the price data in the March figures will therefore reflect those completions that occurred before lockdown.

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

The USA the region’s largest export market, Southend-on-Sea imports £83m of services, £3bn less than Hertfordshire, and EE house prices drop the most in the UK

Reading Time: 3 minutes

HMRC has published the latest regional trade figures which show exports and imports for 2019. Given the time period this data reflects Brexit uncertainty rather than Covid 19 turmoil. 

In the year to December 2019, the overall value of UK trade in goods exports increased by 2.1% to £346bn compared with the same period in 2018. The overall value of imports increased by 0.3% to £483bn.

There was an increase in the annual export value in the EE along with five of the 12 UK ‘regions’. The EE’s exports increased by 2.4% or £675m to £29bn which was 8% of the UK total.  

The biggest regional exporter remained the SE with £46bn with Northern Ireland the smallest at £9bn. The best performer in percentage terms was London which added 17% with Yorkshire & The Humber falling by 6.3%.

There was a decrease in the annual import value in the EE along with five of the 12 UK ‘regions’. The EE’s imports decreased by 4.3% or 2bn to £45bn which was 9% of the UK total.

The leading regional importer was the SE at £98bn and Northern Ireland was the smallest at £8bn. In percentage terms London added 12% compared with Scotland which reduced imports by 7%.

The USA was the EE’s largest export market with machinery & transport equipment the best export. Most of the EE’s imported goods came from Germany with machinery and transport equipment the biggest import.

Services

This month the ONS published data on regional services imports for 2017. The biggest component of services imported into the UK was £51bn of travel. This was 28% of the £181bn UK total imports of services.

The EE imported £15bn of services value in 2017 of which £4bn was travel. The largest importer of services was London at £60bn with Northern Ireland importing £1.6bn.

At a local level, the biggest importer of non-travel services into the UK was Camden and City of London at £14.5bn, almost double the next largest importer which was Westminster at £7.9bn. Of the 167 local areas, the Western Isles of Scotland imported the least amount, £21m, with Anglesey next at £31m.

In the EE, Hertfordshire imported £3bn of non-travel services compared with £83m in Southend-on-Sea.

The data on services exports was released by the ONS last year which showed the EE exporting £17bn of services which compared with London at £117bn and Northern Ireland at £2.9bn.

Other data

The ONS has also published the latest regional construction sector data to December 2019 which again reflects Brexit uncertainty rather than Covid 19 turmoil. Compared with the previous quarter all parts of the UK recorded a decline with the EE posting a 1.8% drop to £4.2bn.

The biggest decrease in the UK was 4.6% in the West Midlands; the SE was best with a 0.9% fall. Within construction though 5980 new houses were completed in the EE, an increase of 10% on the previous quarter.

More pre-pandemic data from the ONS showed unemployment in the region was 8,000 higher at 114,000 between December and February; the uplift of 0.3% took the rate to 3.5%. Northern Ireland had the lowest rate of 2.5% with the NE the highest at 5.6%, the UK rate was 4%.

The South East had the highest employment rate at 80.1% which compared with 78.2% in the EE where 3.1m are employed; the UK rate was 76.6%.

The EE’s average property price decreased over the month by 0.7% to £286,869. The fall took the annual drop to 1%, the biggest in the UK. In comparison, UK prices dropped by 0.6% to £230,332 during February, an annual growth rate of 1.1%.

The Bernards Heath area of St Albans and Central Great Yarmouth are the wealthiest and poorest areas of the region, all 5 LEPs record productivity below the UK average

Reading Time: 3 minutes

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 EE was the Bernards Heath area of St Albans with £45,200. This ranked the area 29th out of the 7,201 areas recorded. The poorest area of the region was Central Great Yarmouth with £17,000. This area was ranked 7,062 out of the 7,201 areas of the UK recorded.

Like most regions of the UK, output per hour in the EE is below the UK average. Productivity per hour in the region was 4.6% below the UK average which ranked the region fourth nationally for 2018. One reason for this is the high levels of hours worked and high productivity in London and South East which 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 EE’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.

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

All of the regions 5 LEPs recorded productivity below the UK average. Hertfordshire was the best and was ranked 10th at just 0.2% below, the other four LEPs all performed reasonably well and ranged from 4% to 9% below the UK average. SEMLEP, Cambridge & Peterborough LEP and the South East LEP were ranked 13th, 17th and 18th. New Anglia LEP at 9% below was ranked 21st out of 44 economic regions.

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 Buckinghamshire Thames Valley LEP which saw productivity drop by 11%.

The EE’s results for productivity growth were more mixed. With growth of 7%, SEMLEP was the sixth best in the UK. The Cambridge & Peterborough LEP was ranked 12th nationally with growth of 5%, beating the New Anglia LEP which was ranked 17th with 3% growth. Two of the region’s LEPs recorded productivity levels lower in 2018 than 2010; the South East at -0.2% was ranked 34th, three places above Hertfordshire LEP which recorded -0.6% .

All of the EE’s three subregions recorded productivity below the UK average. Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire was just below at -0.5%, Essex -6% and East Anglia -7%.

At district level, led by Luton (+5%), five of the EE’s economic regions recorded productivity above the UK average. The other 11 areas dropped below the UK average, with Southend-on-Sea recording the lowest productivity at -30%.

The growth in hours worked between 2010 and 2018 in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire area was 26%, beating Essex which recorded 17% and East Anglia on 11%. In UK terms this level of growth was in the top half of the country’s 40 subregions with Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire ranked third.

If the increase in economic output is also factored in then the sub regional performances are mixed. East Anglia was ranked 14th in the UK with growth of 4%, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire was placed 28th with 1% and Essex was 36th with -0.4%. 

More data from the ONS showed unemployment in the region was 9,000 higher at 110,000 between November and January; the uplift of 0.3% took the overall rate to 3.4%. Northern Ireland had the lowest rate of 2.4%, the North East the highest at 6.2%, with the UK rate at 3.9%.

The South East had the highest employment rate at 80% which compared with 78.4% in the EE where 3.2m are employed; the UK rate was 76.5%.

The EE’s average property price decreased by 2.2% to £286,999, which took the annual decrease to 0.6%. In comparison, UK prices decreased by 1.1% to £231,185 during January, an annual growth rate of 1.3%.

The region’s economic growth only surpassed by London after stalling in early 2019, EE productivity grows and house prices accelerate

Reading Time: 3 minutes

For the 12 months ended December 2019, a nowcast published by the Economic Statistic Centre of Excellence (‘ESCoE’) on a rolling 4 quarter basis, has estimated that the EE’s growth has increased from 1.5% to 2.1%. ESCoE is a partnership of research institutions and the Office for National Statistics (‘ONS’).

This ranked the EE second (previous ranking fifth) and suggests the region has improved relative to the other eleven parts of the UK. Over the same period UK growth was 1.4%; growth in London (ranked first) was 3.3%; and growth in the East Midlands (ranked twelfth) was 0.1%.

The latest official ONS figures for an earlier period are not so good. Following its first publication of quarterly GDP estimates for the regions in September 2019, the ONS has now published its third estimate for the EE the other eight English regions, and Wales. GDP figures have been available for the UK since the 1940s, for Scotland since 2002 and Northern Ireland since 2013.

These stats are for the period six months before the ESCoE estimates shown above and compare GDP in the quarter ended June 2019 with the same quarter a year earlier. These more volatile figures showed the EE contracted by 0.1%, down from 0.1% growth the previous quarter. This placed the EE tenth (previous ranking eleventh) out of the twelve UK ‘regions.’

London topped the table with growth of 4.5% whilst UK growth over the same period was 1.4%. The NW was the worst performer and contracted by 0.7%, one of three ‘regions’ (including the EE) in the UK to suffer a decline.

In the same report, the ONS’s figures highlighted that the standalone quarter to June 2019 was slightly better for the region than the previous quarter. The EE economy grew by 0.2% in April to June 2019, following no growth in January to March 2019.

This placed the EE sixth (previous ranking tenth) out of the twelve UK ‘regions’. Six regions of the UK saw their economies contract as did the UK overall by 0.2%.

In this period, the EE education industry grew by 4.8% but manufacturing fell by 1.9%.

Overall the services sector grew by 0.8%, while production, construction and agriculture fell by 2.2%, 0.6% and 0.5% respectively. The EE services sector has remained relatively flat relative to 2017 whilst production and agriculture have been more volatile with construction generally falling.

Productivity

Like most regions of the UK, output per hour in the EE was below the UK average. Productivity in the EE was 4.6% under the norm which ranked the region fourth in the UK.

Two regions had productivity above the UK average in 2018, London +31.6% and the South East +9.1%. These regions record high levels of hours worked and their high productivity pulls up the UK average so much that all other regions sit below it. Wales was furthest off the average at -17.2%.

The EE was also fourth in the rankings in terms of output per job. The region’s 5.3% below the UK average compared with London at 40.5% above.

In terms of growth in output per hour, six regions of the UK expanded. The EE was ranked fifth as output per hour grew by 0.6%. At 2.3% growth was fastest in Scotland and the biggest contraction was in Yorkshire and the Humber at 2.5%. UK growth was 0.5%.

Sectorally, construction was better than expected but finance and insurance disappointed.

On average, in 2018 the UK economy produced about £35 of value for each hour worked, with finance and insurance top at c£69 per hour compared with accommodation and service activities productivity at c£17 per hour.

Labour

More data from the ONS showed unemployment in the region increased by 7,000 to 108,000 between October and December; the uplift of 0.2% took the rate to 3.3%. Northern Ireland had the lowest rate of 2.4%, with the UK rate at 3.8%. The highest rate was 6.1% which was recorded in the North East.

The South West had the highest employment rate at 80.1% which compared with 78.6% or 3.2m in employment in the EE; the UK rate was 76.5%.

In December, average earnings in the EE fell by £16 to £668 per week. London had the highest average earnings of £805 and the lowest average earnings of £530 were recorded in the NE. The EE was ranked third (previous ranking also third).

In the UK overall, average earnings grew by 2.9% or by 1.4% after inflation. After adjusting for inflation, regular pay is now at its highest level since 2000, whereas total pay (which includes bonuses) is still 3.7% below its peak in February 2008.

Housing

The EE’s average property price increased the most in the UK by 1.3% over the month to £297,714; the uplift took the annual increase to 2.4%. In comparison, UK prices increased by 0.3% to £234,742 during September, an annual growth rate of 2.2%.

The EE one of three UK regions to run a budget surplus and tensions between economic development and planning in evidence

Reading Time: 3 minutes

In the ONS’s estimate of regional public spending and regional tax revenues in 2019, the EE had a surplus of £4.1bn, a larger surplus than the £2.8bn recorded in 2018. This compared with London, which had the highest surplus of £38.9bn.

On a per person basis, the EE’s surplus was £661, higher than the £459 recorded in 2018. London had the largest surplus of £4,369 per person whereas Northern Ireland had the biggest shortfall at £4,978.

The EE was one of three areas of the UK to run surpluses, along with London and the SE of England. The West Midlands and the North East were the two regions in the UK to increase their net fiscal deficits over the year; all the other regions reduced their shortfalls.

At a national level, the UK had a deficit of £623 per person which splits into deficits of £68, £2,713, £4,289 and £4,978 for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland respectively.

Public spending in the EE was £73bn or £11,772 per head, an increase on the 2018 figure of £71bn. London had the biggest spend of £123.9bn or £13,826 per head whereas Northern Ireland had the lowest at £27.9bn or £14,821 per head. Total government spending was £853bn or £12,835 per head.

The EE collected £77.1bn in taxes in 2019. London contributed the most to the Exchequer at £161.9bn, compared with the lowest contribution of £18.5bn which was from Northern Ireland. Overall the state raised £811.3bn or £12,213 per head in taxes, an uplift of £34.1bn or £461 per head compared with 2018.

More data from the ONS showed unemployment in the EE fell slightly by 2,000 to 106,000 between September and November 2019; the decrease of 0.1% took the overall rate to 3.3%. Northern Ireland had the lowest rate at 2.3% with the UK rate at 3.8%.

The South West continued to have the highest employment rate at 79.8% which compared with 78.5% in the EE. The UK employment rate was 76.3%.

EE average property prices fell by 0.7% during November 2019, the drop to £291,281, meant that annually prices also fell by 0.7%. In comparison, UK prices increased by 0.4% to £235,298 an annual growth rate of 2.2%.

Away from the stats, the accepted tensions between a council’s economic development department and its planning arm were in evidence in the region this month.

Firstly, planning officers at Uttlesford District Council recommended proposals to increase the passenger cap at Stansted Airport to 43m pa. Plans for a new £150m arrivals terminal – part of a £600m plan to increase capacity and facilities – were put on hold last year.

The deal included up to £19.2m on community projects including sound insulation and homeowner relocation, as well as more than £15m for transport projects including work on Junction 8 on the M11. But the council’s special planning committee rejected the scheme.

Then in Suffok, a Scottish Power renewables project to build two wind farms, a cable route through Thorpeness, as well as three substations in Friston, was vetoed by councillors who cited concerns about damage to the Suffolk coast. A final recommendation to the secretary of state is not expected until early 2021.

In Essex, the proposed £50m development of Seaway Car Park in Southend was delayed after councillors deferred their decision on planning permission. The development would see a cinema, restaurants and a new car park built on the site.

More positively in Norfolk, Great Yarmouth Borough council has £2.5m in place for a market redevelopment project aimed at replacing the existing facilities on the Market Place with a timber-framed covered hall and new stalls. The council hopes the balance of the £3.6m investment could come from the government’s new Future High Streets Fund.

Also in Norfolk, Norwich-based gift and toy chain Hawkin’s Bazaar has entered administration, putting c180 jobs at risk. Administrators will continue to trade from the firm’s 19 shops in the hope that a buyer can be found.

Regional interventions were in the spotlight this month after it emerged that a law company set up by Central Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire county councils and one other local authority has recorded a £1.2m loss. The firm, LGSS Law, is owned by the three councils and offers public sector legal services. It is understood that an overdraft offered by Cambridgeshire County Council has been largely drawn down.

The East of England third in the 2018 growth league, Peterborough has the second fastest growing local economy in the UK, Thurrock declines and a mixed performance from the region’s LEPs

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Following its first publication of quarterly GDP estimates for the regions in September, the ONS has now published its 2018 full year estimate of economic activity by UK country, region and local area using gross domestic product.

The figures showed the EE economy grew by 1.7% in 2018, down from the 2017 growth rate of 3.8%. This placed the EE third (2017 ranking first) out of the twelve UK ‘regions.’

The UK and England growth rate in 2018 was 1.4%. Growth in Wales was 1.3%, Scotland grew by 0.9% and the Northern Ireland economy shrank by 0.5%.

London topped the 2018 table with growth of 2.0% whilst Northern Ireland was at the bottom.

Within the region, the Peterborough economy grew the fastest at 9%, followed by Bedford at 6.6% and Heart of Essex at 4.3%. In UK terms, the highest annual growth of the 179 local areas was in Falkirk at 10.5%, Peterborough was ranked second.

Four areas of the region saw their GDP decline in 2018. Thurrock recorded the biggest drop at 6.5%, followed by Breckland and South Norfolk at 2.7% and Essex Haven Gateway at 2%. In UK terms, the lowest annual growth of subnational areas was in Mid and East Antrim at -10.1%.

GDP per head growth of 7.8% to £36,014 was seen in Peterborough although at £37,499 Hertfordshire topped the region. GDP per head fell by 7.6% in Thurrock to £27,526 but despite growing by 1.0%, Southend recorded the regional lowest at £18,902.

In terms of UK extremes, GDP per head was £395,309 in Camden and the City of London and £15,034 in Ards and North Down. These figures are a guide and are influenced by commuter flows.

In 2018, key drivers of the EE economy were professional/scientific /technical activities at 6%, arts/entertainment/recreation at 5% and transportation /storage up by 3%. Those areas that did not perform well were agriculture which dropped by 6%, mining down by 4% and electricity/gas supply down by 2%. Overall the services sector grew by 2.1%, construction by 1.4% and production by 0.7%.

The 2018 performance of the region’s five enterprise partnerships was also highlighted by the ONS. Of the UK’s 45 development bodies, Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP was ranked 1st in the UK with growth of 2.8%, Cambridge and Peterborough was ranked 3rd in the UK (2017 ranking 8th) with growth of 2.4%. Semlep moved up the rankings from 30th to 8th with growth of 2.1%, but with slower growth, the region’s other three LEPs fell down the rankings, with Hertfordshire slipping slightly from 1st to 9th, New Anglia moving from 25th to 36th and the South East LEP (which includes Essex) dropping 21 places to 34th.

More data from the ONS showed unemployment in the EE increased by 3,000 to 102,000 between August and October 2019; the increase of 0.1% took the overall rate to 3.2%. Northern Ireland had the lowest rate at 2.3% with the UK rate at 3.8%. The highest rate was 6.1% which was recorded in the North East.

The South West had the highest employment rate at 80.8% which compared with 78.2% in the EE. UK employment was estimated at 76.2%.

EE average property prices fell by 0.1% during October 2019 to £293,928, which took annual growth to 0.3%. In comparison, UK prices fell by 0.7% to £232,944, an annual growth rate of 0.7%.

Regional growth figures suggest a pick up in the EE economy and the increase in regional pay the best in the UK

Reading Time: 3 minutes

On infrastructure investment the region did well this month.  Of the £100m spend announced by the Department of Transport, £19.8m was in the EE.

These funds will be deployed on the East of Ipswich Strategic Highway Works after the bid from Suffolk County Council to deliver the transport infrastructure needed for 2,000 homes was successful.

On economic development, the mechanism by which councils will have the opportunity to bid for funding of up to £25m as part of the government’s £3.6bn Towns Fund has been unveiled by Communities Minister, Robert Jenrick.

The Towns Fund prospectus provides information to the councils in 100 places that have been chosen to pioneer Town Deals. Councils will receive a share of a £16.4m funding pot to shape up their plans.

The £25m funding could be used to redevelop vacant buildings and land, support small businesses, boost transport links and increase access to high-speed broadband.

Lead councils in each area will now bring together a Town Deal Board, including representatives from across the public, private and voluntary sectors, to develop bespoke Town Investment Plans by summer 2020. EE towns include Ipswich, Lowestoft, Norwich, Margate and Colchester amongst others.

Also, the first Thames Estuary Envoy, who will act as the Chair of the Thames Estuary Growth Board, has been appointed.

The announcement follows the government’s response to the Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission report earlier this year. The Growth Commission was established in 2016 to develop a plan for north Kent, south Essex and east London up to 2050.

Despite the proximity to London, parts of the Thames Estuary contain neighbourhoods with high levels of deprivation and higher levels of unemployment compared with the average for England.

The Board is a voluntary partnership between local authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships, universities, businesses and civil society and will receive £1m of government funding to initiate economic growth plans in the area.

The Stats

Following its first publication of quarterly GDP estimates for the regions in September, the ONS has now published its next estimates for the East of England, the other eight English regions, and Wales, for the year to March 2019. GDP figures have been available for the UK since the 1940s, for Scotland since 2002 and Northern Ireland since 2013.

The latest figures showed the East of England’s economy grew by 0.1%, up from a contraction of 0.4% the previous quarter. This again placed the EE eleventh out of the twelve UK ‘regions.’

London topped the table with growth of 4.2%. Propelled by a drive to meet the original March 31st Brexit date, UK growth over the same period was 2.2%.

The ONS figures also showed though, that growth in the region’s economy accelerated in the quarter to March 2019. The EE economy grew by 0.3% in January to March 2019, following a contraction of 0.2% in October to December 2018.

The manufacturing industry grew by 1.9% and made the largest positive contribution to growth but wholesale and retail trade fell by 2.1% and real estate dipped by 0.7%. Overall, the production sector was the main contributor to growth.

Estimates published by ESCoE last month for the year ended September 2019, a more recent period than the ONS figures, ranked the EE fifth (previous ranking tenth) with growth of 1.5%, which suggests the region has had a better summer relative to other parts of the UK.

Using this metric, UK growth was 1.45%. Growth in London (ranked first) was 2.32%, which compared with the South West of England (bottom) at 0.41%

More data from the ONS showed unemployment in the region increased by 6,000 to 101,000 between July and September; the uplift of 0.2% took the overall rate to 3.1%. Northern Ireland had the lowest rate of 2.5%, with the UK rate at 3.8%. The highest rate was 5.9% which was recorded in the North East.

The South West had the highest employment rate at 81.0% which compared with 78.3% in the EE; the UK rate was 76.0%.

In September, average earnings in the EE were up by £32 to £685 per week, the biggest uplift in the UK. London had the highest average earnings of £830. The lowest average earnings of £527 were recorded in Wales. In the UK overall, average earnings grew by 3.6% or by 1.8% after inflation.

The EE’s average property price fell by 0.4% over the month to £291,993, which took the annual decrease to 0.2%. In comparison, UK prices fell by 0.2% to £234,370 during September, an annual growth rate of 1.3%.

A substantial investment in tomatoes in East Anglia, dragons in Cambridgeshire and a big jump in unemployment

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Unemployment in the East of England increased by 17,000 to 109,000 between June and August, the increase of 0.5% was the highest in England and took the overall rate to 3.4%.

The South West continued to record the lowest rate at 2.4% with the UK rate at 3.9%. The highest rate was 5.8% which was recorded in the North East.

The South West also had the highest employment rate at 81.0% which compared with 78.6% in the EE. UK employment was estimated at 75.9%.

EE average property prices increased by 0.3% to £294,192, which took annual growth to an anaemic 0.1%. In comparison, UK prices grew by 0.8% to £234,853 during August, an annual growth rate of 1.3%.

The ONS’s Personal Well-being (or Happiness) Index has ranked the EE sixth out of the 12 UK ‘regions in terms of improved happiness since the last survey. Overall though, the Northern Irish were still the happiest in the UK with Londoners still the most miserable.

Development

Two giant greenhouses costing £120m are to be built next to sewage works to grow millions of tomatoes and bring 360 agricultural jobs.

Work on the UK’s largest greenhouses has begun near Norwich and near Bury St Edmunds. The two greenhouses will cover 72 acres and could produce 1 in 10 of domestically grown tomatoes.

Britain consumes 500,000 tonnes of tomatoes a year but c80% are imported largely from the Netherlands and Spain. Heat will be pumped into the greenhouses from the nearby Anglian Water sewage works.

Scheduled for completion in autumn 2020, the projects will create 360 permanent jobs, 120 seasonal roles and cost £120m.

A study by Renaissance of the East Anglia Fisheries suggests government seed funding could pull in the private-sector investment needed to reverse decades of decline in coastal communities and add £32m to the region’s economy.

The report recommends investment in Lowestoft as a regional port; forcing boats to land their catch in the UK; and building a pontoon at Felixstowe. This could lead to the creation of 300 jobs and at least 25 vessels being added to the UK’s fleet in the southern North Sea.

Leaving the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy could mean a seven-fold increase in the value of quota fish stocks caught by UK vessels in the southern North Sea. The recommendations are supported by Norfolk and Suffolk county councils, the local fishing industry, New Anglia LEP and Associated British Ports.

Analysis by the BBC has found workers living in coastal communities in Great Britain earn on average £1,600 less per year than those living inland. In seaside towns median wages were £22,104 compared with £23,785 in non-coastal areas.

Transport

It is unusual, but some infrastructure projects are completed on time, and some are even finished a year early. The new A14 Huntingdon bypass in Cambridgeshire was not expected to be finished until late 2020, but drivers will be able to use it from this December.

The full £1.5bn 21-mile project, which includes widening the A1 between Brampton and Alconbury, widening the existing A14 between Swavesey and Milton and improving five other junctions, is expected to be completed by the end of 2020.

Drivers travelling between Cambridge and Huntingdon will save about 20 minutes on their journeys.

In the air, Norwich Airport’s plans to treble passenger numbers from 520,000 to 1.4m by 2045 have cleared their first hurdle at Norwich City Council. Rigby Group, which also owns Exeter and Coventry airports, upgraded the terminal building earlier this year and now wants a 500m expansion of the main runway to the east and the relocation of the air traffic control tower.

A new ‘Dragons’ Den’ style panel chaired by Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough James Palmer has been set up to hear pitches for a share of £50m of public money managed by the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority Business Board.

Officially called the Entrepreneurs Assessment Panel, bids for Local Growth Funding from local business leaders for capital investment aimed at growth and pitches for new incubator buildings, roads or infrastructure are expected.

To qualify for funding, applicants will need to demonstrate how their project will deliver on one or more of the priorities set out in the Local Industrial Strategy for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Strategy which was launched in July.

The Board is rebuilding the ‘agency’s brand’ after its predecessor; the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership, went into voluntary liquidation in December 2017 after the National Audit Office found that the governance of the LEP had been substandard.

The liquidation of the LEP sparked a wider review of the governance of all 38 Local Enterprise Partnerships by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Huge sums are not always needed to push economic development. A £600,000 visitor centre has been proposed at the most-visited attraction in the region. Needham Lake is a 32 acre site comprising several small islands and wildlife habitats. It has been owned and managed by Mid Suffolk District since 1980 and last year had 376,000 visitors. It helps of course, that entry to the former gravel pit is free.