Gap in incomes in Scotland narrower than other UK nations and regions

By stewartb

The New Economics Foundation (NEF) published in January 2022 a research report entitled: ‘CLOSING THE DIVIDE: HOW TO REALLY LEVEL UP THE UK’. In many respects from a Scotland perspective it’s a disappointing piece of work: notwithstanding its title, much of the content only refers to the English regions.

However, there is one chart in the NEF report (Figure 1) that does includes information on Scotland – and it’s interesting! It shows the extent to which the gap in disposable incomes – between highest and lowest halves of the UK’s income distribution – has changed since 2019:

On the average for the lower 50% of the income distribution, based on the NEF’s analysis the change in Scotland has been minimal: it is close to the degree of change reported for the East and South East of England. Only London has experienced a positive shift in the average for the bottom 50%.  All other parts of the UK have seen a fall, often a substantial one, with the greatest drop being in NW England.  Indeed the northernmost regions of England have fared worst on this metric.

On the other hand, the average change since 2019 for the top half of the income distribution in Scotland, although positive, is only just higher than in NI and similar to that in NE England.

The net effect is that based on this metric of change in average disposable household incomes, the gap between the average for the lowest earning 50% and the highest is narrower in Scotland than anywhere else in the UK, albeit just narrower than in NI.

But it is also ‘interesting’ to review what the NEF report says about this chart: ‘Those families in the top 50% of disposable incomes nationally have seen their living standards improve across the board, though fastest of all in London and the South East. Meanwhile, families in the poorest 50% of the income distribution have seen their incomes fall, in real terms, everywhere except for London and eastern England.’

Yes, ‘the poorest 50% … have seen their incomes fall, in real terms, everywhere except for London and eastern England’.  But does the chart not show that the fall in Scotland is pretty much close to zero – in CONTRAST to all other parts of the UK outside the greater south east? 

Based on this metric, and intuitively, a ‘one nation’ levelling up agenda that is set and implemented by a Tory government in Westminster – one which aims to bypass Holyrood, let’s remember – is unlikely to be optimal for the specific economic circumstances challenging Scotland.

Earlier reports here on attempts to narrow the income gap:


3 thoughts on “Gap in incomes in Scotland narrower than other UK nations and regions

  1. An interesting analysis and good points made – It will be interesting to see in a year’s time what impact the 2022 Brexit farce, energy “crisis” and inflation has had, particularly in the most stretched areas in the north of England.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The North and especially the NE of England has always been a last thought of the EngGov and the English governments’ tactic to quell any disquiet is to throw a majorish vanity project/symbol at the region, like the dreadful ‘Angel of the North’ or the Baltic art gallery. My dad was born and brought up in Gateshead, in later life he said it resembled ‘Beirut’ it was such a mess in the town centre, if you could call it that. The North of England is a large region from Northumberland down to Yorkshire, I think with a population of about 2 million.

      Northumberland is a different matter. The ‘Duke’ owns pretty much all of that huge region of Northumberland, it’s very sparcely populated and in fact there was a programme years ago (when BBC did such progs) about how it was a deliberate policy to keep the plebs out unless they travelled in to service the hotels etc. So housing is either non existent or unaffordable for anyone not rich. My friends who live at the coast in Northumberland were complaining about big new housing estates being built for retirees from the south, hmm, I think Scotland might be able to identify with that!

      Most of the people there voted for Brexit, how scary.

      It’s not surprising that Scotland is doing better on the equality front, because the SNP have been mitigating Tory cuts (the austerity assault on the poor) for some time, and continue to do so. They do have to be incredibly creative with the purse though but we all know that, due to working within confines and CONstraints of being shackled to a neighbour that takes Scotland’s huge wealth and throws a few crumbs back.

      Just imagine what the ScotGov/SNP/Greens could do if Scotland wasn’t being robbed in broad daylight by the very dodgy cabal at the helm in London.

      Independence might see an influx of folk from the north of England, as opposed to just the south that we are seeing now, enjoying Scotland’s decent healthcare, education, new infrastucture, clean water and spectactular countryside etc. Hmm.

      I’d like to see Scotland’s land taken back form those who possess it but do nothing good for Scotland or the environment, and for some of that land to be used for housing, with plenty of spce for people to grow their own as well. As a pal in NE England said in 2014, ‘you just want a utopia’ re, wanting independence, lol, aye that’s right I do!

      sorry long comment.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “Most of the people there voted for Brexit, how scary” – Not really, the Brexit campaign was on the go 30 years ago by way of building the “we are victims” scenario, it never really stopped passing the buck of WM misrule to anyone else to this day, and England’s MSM are firmly on-side, Keir Starmer’s “Beergate” the most recent.

        It takes 20-30 years to convince people their enemy is elsewhere and MSM’s role in the drip feed of propaganda is no naïve coincidence.
        Yet this is where HMS Sarah Smith’s propaganda minders and latterly HMS James Cook got it so fundamentally wrong – They thought they could compress 30 years of propaganda into a shorter period with “Shock and awe” and were surprised the response from most Scots was “Awe, shock?”.

        The politics of the north of England will come back to bite them in the arse next winter – HMG stalled energy price rises until April knowing full well it would cause riots – For clarity I’ve been paying the increased rates for EU energy since Oct/Nov last year.
        Since HMG can absorb the purported additional cost of EU/”Russia” imports for close on 6 months, does anybody else detect a whiff of ‘Eau de Latrine” from Boris et al courtesy of the de Rishi parfum studios…

        Liked by 2 people

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