Friday, 21 October 2011

Is the North-South divide less clear than you thought?


I know it's rude to mention the EU but our continental overlords have published variance from the EU Average GDP per head at sub-regional level - and here are the places more than 5% above that average:

Inner London 343%
North Eastern Scotland 157%
Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire 154%
Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire 126%
Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Bristol/Bath area 125%
Cheshire 124%
Surrey, East and West Sussex 117%
Eastern Scotland 116%
Hampshire and Isle of Wight 115%
Leicestershire, Rutland and Northamptonshire 113%
East Wales 108%
East Anglia 106%

The eagle-eyed among you will have spotted that Kent & Essex are not in this list (and indeed have GDP below EU average). And the below average:

Kent 93%
Northern Ireland 91%
Lancashire 90%
East Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire 88%
Devon 87%
Shropshire and Staffordshire 87%
Highlands and Islands 87%
South Yorkshire 86%
Cumbria 89%
Lincolnshire 82%
Merseyside 81%
Tees Valley and Durham 81%
Cornwall and Isles of Scilly 75%
West Wales and the Valleys 71%

Again, the keen spotters among you all will notice that the big midlands and northern conurbations (South Yorkshire and Merseyside aside) are not here - Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, West Midlands, Tyne & Wear are all at or very close to the EU GDP average.

I've no idea whether all this is significant - but it does suggest that our regular simplification of England's economic geography doesn't really describe the true picture. The North is generally poorer (other than Cheshire) but the problem doesn't really lie in the big cities but in the smaller towns and declining industrial areas. Which rather explains why Kent and Essex seem more like part of the North than the booming South.


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