A new index launched tracking the prosperity levels of local authorities around the UK has revealed the huge imbalance between regions, with 17 of the top 20 performing local authorities being based in London and the South East of England.
The UK Prosperity Index 2021, produced for the Centre for UK Prosperity programme by the Legatum Institute, has been described as “a tool for transformation to help ‘level-up’ the country” as it highlights the areas of the country facing particular challenges.
Prosperity among local authorities was measured both overall and by 12 individual metrics: safety and security; personal freedom; governance; social capital; investment environment; enterprise conditions; infrastructure; economic quality; living conditions; health; education; and natural environment.
From those measures, the 2021 rankings saw the top six most prosperous UK local authorities come from the South East (and 15 of the top 20), in the following order: Wokingham, Waverley, Elmbridge, Epsom and Ewell, Woking, and Hart.
By contrast, all five of the least prosperous local authorities were from the North of England and Scotland; with Oldham, West Dunbartonshire, Glasgow City, Middlesbrough, and finally Blackpool recording the lowest prosperity scores.
The South East is the most prosperous region in the UK; 34 of the 60 top-performing local authorities in this region; with the South performing higher by proportion. The lowest performing southern local authority was London’s Barking and Dagenham, ranking 348th out of a total of 379 local authorities.
Professor Matthew Goodwin, Director of the Legatum Institute’s Centre for UK Prosperity and lead author on the report, said: “Genuine prosperity is about far more than building a strong economy or giving people bridges and trains.
“The Index shows that we also need to invest in areas such as safety and security, health, enterprise conditions, and family and community life if we are to see all citizens, neighbourhoods, and communities reach their full potential.
'This is why, while we support the focus on levelling-up regions that have historically been left behind, we believe that the Government can be bolder. We need to do more than just level-up left behind areas to the status-quo.
“We should be much more ambitious and aim to reach entirely new heights by creating the conditions that will put all regions and communities into the fast lane toward greater and long-lasting prosperity.”