The State of Britain

The Henleaze and Barton Hill areas of Bristol are the wealthiest and poorest areas of the region, Cornwall LEP records the second best productivity growth in the UK and the SW loses its employment crown

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The ONS has published average household disposal income estimates for England and Wales in 2018. The incomes shown are after tax and housing costs are taken off.  The analysis has shown that 87% of local areas had an average household income of between £22,500 and £39,200; within this over a third were between £28,000 and £33,600.

Of the 50 areas with the highest total incomes, 41 were in London with the lowest incomes more widely spread geographically across England and Wales. The North East, East England, London, and the South East had no local areas in the bottom 50.

The wealthiest area in England and Wales was Mickleover in Derby with incomes of £52,200 and the poorest was Highfield North in Leicester with £12,500. The two areas are 30 miles from each other and ranked 7200 places apart.

The wealthiest area of the SW was the Henleaze area of Bristol with £40,600. This ranked the area 147th out of the 7,201 areas recorded. The poorest area of the region was also in Bristol, Barton Hill, with £15,600. This area was ranked 7,155 out of the 7,201 areas of the UK recorded.

Like most regions of the UK, output per hour in the SW is below the UK average. Productivity per hour in the region was 9.8% below the UK average which ranked the region sixth nationally for 2018. One reason for this is the high levels of hours worked and high productivity in London and South East which pulls up the UK average so much that all other regions fall below it.

The ONS has now released data for a longer period and at a subregional level. This gives further insight into the SW’s performance.

Perhaps the most useful is the 2018 results for the 44 enterprise regions in the UK which comprise the 38 English local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) and six enterprise regions in Scotland, Wales and the border regions.

Thames Valley Berkshire LEP had the best productivity (in terms of hours and jobs) in 2018 at 35% above the UK average whereas the Black Country LEP at 24% below was the worst.

At 10% above, the Swindon and Wiltshire LEP was one of eight economic regions which beat the UK average and was ranked 4th, the region’s other LEPs recorded productivity below the UK average. West of England was 11th at 1% below, the other four LEPs all performed poorly and ranged from 11% to 24% below the UK average. Dorset, Gloucestershire and Heart of the South West LEPs were ranked 26th, 27th and 34th. Cornwall at 24% below was ranked 43rd, the second worst in the UK.

In terms of productivity growth between 2010 and 2018 the Coventry and Warwickshire LEP was top with growth of 16%. Twelve economic regions recorded productivity levels lower in 2018 than 2010. The worst performer was the Buckinghamshire Thames Valley LEP which saw productivity drop by 11%.

The SW’s results for productivity growth were more mixed. With growth of 10% the Cornwall LEP was the second best in the UK. The Swindon and Wiltshire LEP was ranked 14th nationally with growth of 4%, beating the Heart of the South West which was ranked 22nd with 2% growth. West of England was a little behind at 25th with Dorset at 0% growth which ranked it 33rd.  The only one of the region’s LEPs which recorded productivity levels lower in 2018 than 2010 was Gloucestershire at -8%. The ranking of 43rd only beat Buckinghamshire Thames Valley LEP.

Despite this all of the SW’s four subregions recorded productivity below the UK average. Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Bath/Bristol area -1%, Devon -16%, Dorset and Somerset -16% and Cornwall and Isles of Scilly -18%.

At a county level, with the exception of Swindon (+40%) and Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (+7%) all of the SW’s economic regions recorded productivity below the UK average. Torbay had the lowest productivity, 26% below the UK average.

The growth in hours worked between 2010 and 2018 in Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Bath/Bristol area was 13%, beating Dorset and Somerset which recorded 12%. In UK terms this level of growth was in the top half of the country’s 40 subregions. Cornwall and Isles of Scilly grew 7% and Devon grew 6% which ranked them in the bottom ten of the UK.

If the increase in economic output is also factored in then the sub regional performances are good, mirroring the region’s LEPs. Cornwall and Isles of was ranked 3rd in the UK with growth of 10%, Devon was placed 18th with 3%, Dorset and Somerset 25th with 2%  and Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Bath/Bristol 32nd with 0.4%. 

More data from the ONS showed unemployment in the region was 10,000 higher at 87,000 between November and January; the uplift of 0.3% took the overall rate to 3.0%, the second best in the UK. Northern Ireland had the lowest rate of 2.4%, the North East the highest at 6.2%, with the UK rate at 3.9%.

The South East overtook the region and had the highest employment rate at 80% which compared with 79.9% in the SW where 2.8m are employed; the UK rate was 76.5%.

The SW’s average property price decreased by 1.8% to £254,320, which took the annual decrease to 0.1%. In comparison, UK prices decreased by 1.1% to £231,185 during January, an annual growth rate of 1.3%.