NW clean energy projects, incomes in Cheshire East striking, Lancaster and Wyre growth disappoints

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Plans for two nuclear power plants at Moorside, adjacent to the Sellafield reprocessing plant, have been submitted by an EDF-led consortium. The firm wants to build two pressurised water reactors of the same type as Hinkley Point C in Somerset; 25,000 jobs could be created across the region.

In Greater Manchester, one of the world’s first commercial liquid air batteries will be built after being awarded a £10m government grant.

The CryoBattery facility in Carrington will store spare green energy and could power up to 200,000 homes. The technology stores compressed air in huge containers which is used to generate electricity.

Construction of the facility is expected to start later this year and enter commercial operation in 2022. The new plant will create up to 200 new jobs.

In Lancashire, the leaders of all 15 local authorities have voted for an elected mayor to head up a combined county wide authority. The deal would hand Lancashire more powers and funds of at least £30m a year for 30 years. Mayors were elected in the neighbouring regions of Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City region, as well as other English regions, in 2017.

Also in the county, Blackpool Illuminations will be extended to 3 January to help the town’s Covid-19-stricken tourism trade. The lightshow’s switch-on this year will be live-streamed on 4 September, the first time in more than 70 years the resort’s switch-on event will not be held on the seafront.

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 NW was £18,362.

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 North West was Cheshire East with incomes of £24,524. This ranked the area 28th out of 179 districts of the UK, the highest ranking outside London and the SE of England. The poorest area of the region was Blackburn with Darwen at £13,741, just beating Manchester at £14,864. Blackburn was ranked 177th in the UK, only above Nottingham and Leicester.

In terms of regional growth, the largest increase was in London at 5.2% with the smallest in the East Midlands at 3.6%. NW growth was 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 the NW, income growth in Greater Manchester South West was top at 6.2% with Manchester second at 5.5% Blackburn beat the UK average with growth of 5% and was ranked 55th out of 179.  Lancaster and Wyre was the worst regional performer with growth of 2.6%, a ranking of 165th.

Labour

More data from the ONS showed unemployment in the region was 12,000 lower at 148,000 between February and April; the drop of 0.3% took the rate to 4.1%. At 5.2% the North East was 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 75.9% in the NW where 3.5m are employed; the UK rate was 76.4%.

Public sector employment in the NW increased by 1.8% in March to 623,000, which was 17.6% 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 NW dropped by £11 to £595 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 wages dropped the most by £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 NW rental prices ranged from £495 to £725 with £525 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 5.7% in the NW 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 NW is forecast to have 3.3m households by 2028.

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

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