BoE chief economist says UK regional inequality is one of the most important issues the country faces

Bank of England’s chief economist, Andrew Haldane, warned that regional inequality in Britain is “one of the most important issues that we face today as a country.”

Haldane said in an interview with the BBC: “There are some big gaps, north to south. There are some big gaps east to west as well.”

“The UK, I think, is towards the bottom of the league table within Europe in terms of its degree of difference across regions.”

The only regions of the UK where income per head is above pre-financial crisis levels are the South East and London.

In areas such as the North East of England, net wealth has fallen.

Britain’s richest and poorest regions have drawn farther apart. Haldane said wage differences between certain regions of the country could be as high as 50%, while the productivity gap between regions could be as much as 60%.

Speaking to BBC economics editor Kamal Ahmed, Haldane said:

“And the signs of those gaps having shrunk over the past few years? Well, there is not much evidence to speak to that.

“If anything these gaps – which are of long standing – have nudged a little wider over the course of the UK’s recovery.

“If you look at the level of income within region, per head, it is only really London and the South East where that is back above the levels it was before the crisis.

“In pretty much every other area of the UK we are yet to move materially back to those pre-crisis levels.

“I think [the issue of regional inequality] is right up there as among the most important issues that we face today as a country.”

In the UK, USA, and most of the other advanced economies, inequality has been widening over the past couple of decades.

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