Every region better off than last year, research finds


Every region in Britain is more prosperous than last year, with some areas emerging as challengers to London and the South East for affluence, a new report shows.

Wealth, spending or earnings rose across the country in the 12 months to April 2016, while jobless rates dropped, according Barclays' Prosperity Map.

The lender's report calculates regional scores based on an array of factors such as gross domestic product (GDP), house prices, charitable giving, working hours and average house prices. 

The upbeat news comes despite economic uncertainty sparked by China's economic slowdown, stock market turmoil and the Brexit vote. 

"It is very encouraging to see the upward trajectory for prosperity in the UK continuing despite recent global volatility," Akshaya Bhargava, chief executive of wealth, entrepreneurs and business banking at Barclays said. 

While London still ranks as the UK's most prosperous city, others are "emerging as prosperity hotspots," the report added.

Scotland saw the biggest increase to household wealth, which rose by 13% versus London's 12% rise.

Barclays said the rise was likely linked to Scotland's median private pensions wealth, which jumped 60% compared to 19% in England and 24% in Wales.

Scotland advanced in the rankings to become the seventh most prosperous region on the index, behind the East Midlands, Northern Ireland, South West and Eastern England, South East and London.

The North East emerged as the least prosperous region in the UK, although Barclays noted an "impressive" 6% increase in average annual earnings, reaching £24,748. 

"This is in stark comparison to London, where average earnings dropped by 1% in the same time period," the report explained. 

Meanwhile, Bristol and Cambridge have become "increasingly attractive areas to live and work," with house prices rising 13% and 14% respectively in the 12 months to April.

That is compared to the capital's housing market, which saw price growth of 11% during the same period. 

Manchester, Cardiff and Sheffield saw some of the strongest turnover amongst small and medium sized businesses, up 15%, 12% and 11%, respectively. 

"The research shows that not only is the UK still 'open for business', it sends a clear message that all parts of the UK are sharing in, and contributing to its role as a driver of global prosperity," Mr Bhargava said.

However, the UK now has 3.8% fewer millionaires at 690,000. One in every 67 people in the UK is now worth at least seven figures, but they are not all based in London. 

"Even without London and the South East, the rest of the UK has shown an increase of 85,000 additional millionaires, up by 31% since 2010," the report showed. 

Eastern England hosts the largest proportion of the country's millionaires after the South East and London, at 13.2% or 148,000.

Around 8.1% of the UK's wealthiest are in the South West, followed by 6.4% in the North West and 6.2% in Scotland. 

Wales and the North East are home to the fewest millionaires, each hosting 12,000 or 1.7% of the country's total.