Scottish households see biggest rise in wealth in UK

Scotland has experienced the biggest annual increase in household wealth in the UK, according to an in-depth report released by a major bank.

Barclays research shows that wealth, spending or earnings rose throughout the UK in the 12 months to April 2016, while jobless rates fell. Picture: PA

Barclays’ Prosperity Map reveals that every region in Britain is more prosperous than last year and that Scotland saw the highest rise household wealth, increasing by 13 per cent compared with 12 per cent in London.

The findings come despite economic uncertainty caused by Britain’s vote in June to leave the European Union, stock market turmoil and China’s growth slowdown. They also follow Scottish Government statistics last week that showed a plunge in oil revenues contributed to a record financial black hole of almost £15 billion.

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Barclays’ research shows that wealth, spending or earnings rose throughout the UK in the 12 months to April 2016, while jobless rates fell.

The lender said the rise north of the Border was likely to be linked to Scotland’s median private pensions wealth, which jumped 60 per cent compared with 19 per cent in ­England and 24 per cent in Wales. Scotland rose to become the seventh most prosperous region on the index, behind the East Midlands, Northern Ireland, south-west and eastern England, south-east England and London. The report calculates regional scores based on factors including gross domestic product, house prices, charitable giving, working hours and average house prices.

The research also revealed that the UK now has 3.8 per cent fewer millionaires, at 690,000. One in every 67 people in the UK is now worth at least seven figures, but they are not all based in London.

“Even without London and the south-east, the rest of the UK has shown an increase of 85,000 additional millionaires, up by 31 per cent since 2010,” the report said.

Around 8.1 per cent of the UK’s wealthiest people are in the south-west, followed by 6.4 per cent in the north-west and 6.2 per cent in Scotland.

Tom McPhail, head of pensions research at Hargreaves Lansdown Pensions, said that public sector guaranteed final salary pensions could be a factor influencing the increase in Scotland’s personal wealth.

He said: “If you look at the demographics Scotland is not significantly different from the rest of the UK, the population is not older or younger than elsewhere.

“However, in a population of just over five million the ratio of those of working age in public sector workers is a higher proportion in Scotland than the rest of the UK.

“Public sector pensions in the main are still guaranteed final salary pensions, while the private sector pensions are money purchase pensions and dependent on the stock market. So depending on when Barclays take their ‘snapshot’ this would feed into their ­figures.”

However, David Bell, professor of economics at the University of Stirling, said: “Many companies operate on both sides of the Border and will enrol their employees in the same pension scheme. Therefore it is something of a surprise that Scotland’s median pension wealth has grown so much more rapidly than that in the rest of the UK.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The foundations of our economy remain strong and this report echoes that. Scotland, in terms of economic output per head… remains the most prosperous part of the UK outside of London and south-east England.”