The State of Britain

NE steel and coal production issues, a big hike in regional wages but incomes the lowest in the UK

Reading Time: 4 minutes

State owned Teesside Airport may host drive-in gigs for some major music concerts, promoter Live Nation has announced. The Streets, Dizzee Rascal and Sigala are among those due to perform over the summer. The 300-car gigs have been designed to provide a safe alternative to the events that have been cancelled.

In industry, British Steel is pausing production at Skinningrove for three weeks for a second time this year. The company confirmed 300 workers would be furloughed at the Teeside site as a temporary measure.

In County Durham, Banks Group’s plans to enlarge its Bradley West mine to extract an extra 90,000 tonnes of coal have been rejected by councillors.

Extraction of coal began in May 2018 and the project had been recommended by planning officers.

Banks, which had promised to restore the land by August 2021, said the extension would protect jobs on the site and support British industry by providing an alternative to imported coal from America, Russia or Australia.

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 the UK average of £21,109.

At a local level, Kensington and Chelsea/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 North East was Northumberland with incomes of £20,437. This ranked the area 70th out of 179 districts of the UK. The poorest area of the region was South Teesside at £15,764, just beating Sunderland at £16,000. South Teesside was ranked 164th 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%. NE growth was 3.9%.

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 NE, income growth in Northumberland was top at 4.8% with Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees second at 4.7%. South Teesside was again the worst regional performer with growth of 1.4%, a ranking of 176th.


More data from the ONS showed unemployment in the region was 11,000 lower at 68,000 between February and April; the big drop of 1.0% took the rate to 5.2%. 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 at 79.5% which compared with 73.9% in the NE where 1.2m are employed; the UK rate was 76.4%.

Public sector employment in the NE increased by 2.7% in March to 236,000, which was 19.2% 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 NE increased by £60 to £590 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 NE rental prices ranged from £425 to £595 with £495 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%, followed by the North West, which increased by 1.0%.

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 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 NE is forecast to have 1.2m households by 2028.

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