The State of Britain

Regional job losses mount up, Dorset incomes the highest and SW private sector rents increase the most in the UK

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The SW aerospace industry continues to be buffeted by the pandemic. 

At Filton, 295 jobs are threatened at Airbus with a further c1,000 indirect jobs at risk in the regional supply chain.  

Rolls Royce has also confirmed the locations of the job losses it is to make this year. Last month the Derby-based firm said 9,000 jobs were to be cut, mostly in its Civil Aerospace division, of these c50 roles will go in Bristol. Voluntary redundancies will be available in Civil Aerospace and the scheme is also open to some of the Bristol-based workforce engaged in Manufacturing, Assembly and Test.

In the arts, The Theatre Royal in Plymouth warned that 100 of its 350 jobs were at risk. The income of the Devon theatre has reduced by 91% since lockdown began

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 SW was fourth at £20,907.

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 SW was Dorset with incomes of £22,738. This ranked the area 38th out of 179 districts of the UK.

The poorest areas of the region were Plymouth at £17,555, beating Torbay at £18,412. Plymouth was ranked 126th 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%. SW growth was third at 5%.

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 SW, income growth in Bournemouth was the second highest in the UK at 6.8% with Wiltshire a regional second and UK seventh at 6.3%. Torbay was the worst regional performer with growth of 2.1%, a ranking of 173rd.


More data from the ONS showed unemployment in the region was 1,000 lower at 86,000 between February and April; the drop left the rate unchanged at 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 at 79.5% which compared with 78.9% in the SW where 2.8m are employed; the UK rate was 76.4%.

Public sector employment in the SW increased by 2.8% in March to 448.000, which was 16.2% 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 SW increased by £26 to £608 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 SW rental prices ranged from £595 to £895 with £725 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%.

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 SW is forecast to have 2.6m households by 2028.

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