The first attempt by the Office for National Statistics to break down the UK’s budget deficit by region has demonstrated the importance of the capital and highlighted how taxes and public spending are used to narrow the north-south divide.
Experimental data from the ONS showed that only three regions of the UK – London, the south-east and the east of England – ran a budget surplus in the 2015-16 financial year, the latest year for which figures are available.
Every Londoner provided £3,070 more in tax revenues than they received in public spending, while people living in the south-east ran a surplus of £1,670 per head. The east of England turned a small deficit in 2014-15 into a surplus of £242 per head in 2015-16.
By contrast, spending exceeded tax revenues by £5,440 per head in Northern Ireland and by £3,820 in the orth-east. Scotland, which has seen its public finances badly affected by the plunge in global oil prices, ran a deficit of £2,830 a head.
At which point Richie tells us that his early diatribes about the Scottish numbers are…..well, actually, no, he’s told us nothing that I’ve seen so far.
He’s obviously sorting out Manchester’s security problems at a conference in Holland or something.