First the good news Wales’s economy grew by 3.4% last year according to the Office of National Statistics. Wales and the the North West showed the highest Gross Value Added (GVA) increase of all the nations and regions of the UK.
Now the bad news, Wales remains with the lowest GVA per head of all the regions of the UK. Indeed there remains a massive gap between Wales and London of £23,322. In London the GVA per head was £40, 215 whereas in Wales it was £16,893.
The figures become even starker when you go below the regional level. Inner London had the highest GVA per head at £71,162 whilst West Wales and the Valleys had the lowest at £14,763.
£56,399 is a massive gap and goes a long way to explain why these parts of Wales continue to receive European money to stimulate the economy and raise the areas out of poverty.
Ynys Mon has the lowest level of GVA with £11,368 wheras the highest is the West End of London with a GVA of a staggering £135,888. Perhaps the subsidy should not be to fly civil servants from Cardiff to Ynys Mon, but rich Londoners to the area to spend their ill gotten gains.
The GVA measures the increase in the value of the economy due to production of goods and services, It’s a good indicator of the economic activity of an area. On that basis Wales can still be seen to be a basket case.
The figures also underline the economic imbalance in the UK with London and the South East way ahead of the rest of the UK. They’ve benefitted with large sums been pumped in infrastructure schemes such as the Olympics, the Channel tunnel rail link and now Crossrail. You can hardly visit a station in the London area without it having received or under going a facelift.
Last year, the construction skills industry training board forecast that Greater London would receive more economic-development spending than than Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland put together.
The truth is that since the crash London and the south-east have continued to pull away from the rest of the national economy. The wedge between them and the rest of Britain has been driven in deeper. These latest figures show the divide is continuing to grow.
Clearly leaving the economic levers in Westminster’s hands is not benefitting Wales. The case for more powers over the economy to be devolved is overwhelming and should happen sooner without the need for a wasteful referendum. Wales can’t afford more prevarication.