Annual Barclays report finds no region is less prosperous than last year and Scotland saw biggest rise – but study was conducted before EU referendum written by Miles Brignall for http://www.the guardian.com

Pre-Brexit vote research shows prosperity hotspots emerging across UK

Every region of the UK is better off than it was a year ago, according to a new study that found Scotland enjoyed the biggest rise in prosperity last year, beating London and several other booming English cities.

Despite uncertain economic conditions during the year caused by volatile stock markets, China’s slowdown and the leadup to Brexit, Barclays’ latest prosperity index found that no region’s overall prosperity declined last year, despite recent reports that wages have fallen for many in real terms.

This study, which examines a raft of measures including average annual pay, local house prices, small business growth rates and even things like charitable giving, showed that while London continues to be the UK’s most prosperous city, others are also emerging as prosperity hotspots.

After the south-east and London, eastern England hosts the largest proportion of the country’s millionaires, with 148,000. Wales and the north-east are home to the fewest millionaires, each hosting 1.7% of the country’s total.

Scotland led the way in terms of increase in household wealth over the last year, according to the report – rising by 13%, pushing it up into seventh place overall. It narrowly beat the capital, which saw a 12% increase in prosperity last year.

However it should be noted that the research was carried out before June’s Brexit vote, which has since led to a cooling of the property market, particularly in London.

The study will give heart to those who have talked about the boom in the northern half of the UK.

It found that:

  • Manchester and Sheffield saw some of the largest increases in small and medium-sized enterprise turnover at 15%, and 11% respectively – compared with 7% in London.
  • Yorkshire saw the second biggest rise in the number of new businesses created with a 1.8% increase, second only to London.
  • At an average age of 45, Manchester has the youngest business owners in the UK, compared with average age 50 in places such as Guildford and Cambridge.
  • Leeds, Cambridge and Liverpool have the highest proportion of female entrepreneurs in UK cities – at 29%.

In a sign of their status as increasingly attractive areas in which to live and work, both Bristol and Cambridge saw higher growth in house prices than London, up 14% for Cambridge and 13% for Bristol, compared with just 11% in London.

Leeds came out on top for cities when it comes to increase in average earnings, rising by 6% last year, followed by Newcastle, where earnings rose by 5%. Earnings in London dropped 1% over the same period.

Paul Swinney, principal economist at Centre for Cities, said: “While it is encouraging to see some cities comparing favourably to London and the south-east on some of the key measures in the prosperity index, it is important to remember that there is still some way to go to ensure that everyone in the UK can enjoy equal levels of prosperity.

“A large part of this will be investment in skills, particularly in areas which are still recovering from the decline in traditional industries. The most vibrant places are those [that] have high-skilled workforces and which have focused on supporting firms and employment in the knowledge-based service sectors.

“By making these issues a priority, regions across the UK can start to attract more of the industries and jobs, which offer the best prospects of long-term growth and prosperity.”

Akshaya Bhargava, who heads Barclays’ wealth division, said: “It is particularly reassuring to see that there is strong activity throughout the whole of the UK.

“As we look at the future of global trade and inward investment post-Brexit it is the success of our entrepreneurs that will help drive future prosperity – it is essential that business leaders and policymakers continue to nurture these growth areas in order to ensure that these trends continue.”

• This article was amended on 30 August 2016. An earlier version said one in every 67 people in the UK was now worth at least seven figures. That has been corrected to one in 67 adults.

Source: The Guardian