The State of Britain

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

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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.


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.


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.