New statistics have revealed that Wales had the lowest disposable household income in the UK before the pandemic struck, leading to accusations by the Welsh Conservatives that the Labour Government in Cardiff Bay “is not paying off for the people of Wales”.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show gross disposable household income (GDHI) per head for 2019 in Wales was £17,263. This compares to £21,978 in England, £19,649 in Scotland, and £17,331 in Northern Ireland. The UK-wide average was £21,433.
Wales also performed poorly compared to English regions, with a GDHI per head lower than eight of the nine, beating just beating the North-East (£17,096).
Compared to 2018, Wales’ GDHI per head level grew by just 1.1% and its total GDHI (£54.427bn) increased by only 1.5%, marking the lowest increase of British nations and English regions on both measures.
According to the ONS, GDHI is “the amount of money that all of the individuals in the household sector have available for spending or saving after they have paid direct and indirect taxes and received any direct benefits. GDHI also includes the business income of self-employed people.”
The part of Wales with the most disposable income per head was Monmouthshire & Newport at £19,273, while people in the Gwent Valleys had the lowest, with a per head average of £15,856.
Commenting, Welsh Conservative and Shadow Economy Minister Paul Davies MS said:
“After 18 months of lockdowns and restrictions in face of a pandemic, we have all learnt that life is for living, so ensuring people have disposable income so they and their families can enjoy themselves is more important than ever.
“So for us as a nation to be bottom of the league table once again when it comes to disposable income just shows that Labour is not paying off for the people of Wales.
“After running Welsh public services and economic development for a quarter of a century, Labour must do better than blame legacy issues, and accept that they are better placed than anyone to foster an entrepreneurial environment in Wales as we strive to recover from the pandemic.
“Sadly, all we get from the Economy Minister is carping on about Brexit or Westminster – devolution is supposed to mean being in charge of our own destiny, yet Labour, as usual, prefer to blame someone else rather than examine its own failures and learn from them.
“We need a wealth-creation strategy: moving to address the brain drain this week is welcome, but it might be too little, too late. We need more direct investment, to nurture start-ups, and improve management of public services in order to make Wales a more attractive place to live.”