The State of Britain

Jobs at Gatwick under threat, a big disparity between incomes in West Surrey and Portsmouth and poor growth in Medway highlighted

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The pandemic’s impact on the aviation industry has continued with c600 ground staff at Gatwick Airport at risk under proposals put forward by Gatwick Ground Services. The firm will take on 412 BA employees in July who will join 511 current GGS staff.

More positively, Oxfordshire County Council has secured £218m from the Housing Infrastructure Fund to support building new roads and bridges around Didcot. In 2015, Didcot was awarded garden town status, which gives it access to the Fund as part of a 20-year plan to build 15,000 new homes. The cost of the project is predicted to be £234m, with the balance being covered by contributions from housing developers.

Also in the county, government agency, Homes England, has submitted plans for a new market town of 3,000 homes at Chalgrove Airfield.

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 SE was £24,318.

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 SE was West Surrey with incomes of £30,748. This ranked the area 7th out of 179 districts of the UK.

The poorest areas of the region were Portsmouth at £16,297, beating Southampton at £16,994. Portsmouth was ranked 154th 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%. The SE was 4.1%.

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 the SE, income growth in Buckinghamshire was the sixth highest in the UK at 6.5% with North Hampshire a regional second at 6.1%. Medway was the worst regional performer with growth of 2.4%, a ranking of 170th.


More data from the ONS showed unemployment in the region was 10,000 lower at 146,000 between February and April; the drop of 0.2% 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% where 4.7m are employed; the UK rate was 76.4%.

Public sector employment in the SE increased by 2.1% in March to 644.000, which was 14.5% 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 SE fell by £27 to £702 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.

In the SE rental prices ranged from £745 to £1,150 with £900 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 SE recorded 1.2%.

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 6.9% in the SE 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 SE is forecast to have 4.0m households by 2028.

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