Thursday, 11 November 2010

The Outer Hebrides outgrow Anglesey

Dylan Jones-Evans, Professor and Director of Enterprise and Innovation at the University of Wales, today continues his excellent and insightful investigation into the situation of Anglesey by taking a look at how the ten poorest areas in the UK (as measured by GVA per head) have performed relative to each other since 2001. The results can be seen in the below chart:

Relative GVA per head compared to UK Average for the UK's 10 poorest regions

As you can see, some regions have shown tremendous growth over the past seven years, whereas places like Anglesey, the valleys of South Wales, and Conway & Denbighshire have either continued to decline or stagnated. It is also worth noting that these figures presumably include the output from Anglesey Aluminium and other recently closed companies, making it certain that Anglesey's current GVA per head is even lower than shown here.

However what really stands out to me is how the Western Isles (also known as the Outer Hebrides) have transformed their position from second from the bottom to joint top over a period of just ten years. When we look at the map plotting the location of these ten poorest parts of the UK, we can see just how remarkable the performances of the Western Isles and of Caithness and Sutherland, and Ross Cromarty (i.e. the North East top of Scotland) in particular have been:

Location of the top 10 poorest regions in the UK

So, as you can see without (a) the benefit of an A55 linking it directly to the industrial cities of the Midlands; (b) a major port linking it to the capital of Ireland, or (c) even a bridge connecting it to the rest of the mainland, the Western Isles have managed to not only economically outperform us in Anglesey, but have also grown dramatically too. This map also makes it clear that simply blaming the peripheral location of Anglesey as the cause of all our problems is not enough -- most of the bottom ten regions are in relatively remote locations, yet the two most remote regions (Western Isles and the North East tip of Scotland) have somehow found a way to grow. 

To me this indicates that, all other things being equal, there must be something fundamentally wrong with the Economic Development policies being followed by successive governments in Westminster, and in particular by the Welsh Assembly Government which need to be put right as soon as possible.


not only but also said...

Can you compare Anglesey and the Outer Hebrides in terms of GVA per head ? i.e it has a smaller population, which has seen a net outflow from the islands (population was 26,180 in 2009), and the percentage claiming job seekers allowance of those of working age was 3% in July 2010.


The Druid of Anglesey said...

Not only but also - I don't see why not. As these are GVA per head figures, they obviously correct for population size. Anglesey has also seen a net outflow of our younger people. The unemployment rate on the Hebrides is 3% compared to our 6%. As a rural island off the Western coast of the UK, it is a very good place to compare ourselves to -- and it may be we can learn something from them in terms of how they have managed to improve their economic circumstances so rapidly.

David Williams said...

Without wishing to under estimate the challenges, indeed plight, facing many of our communities, we need to reflect on some of the factors that maybe driving our GVA performance. Workplaces in Gwynedd and beyond result in the value of our commuters being attributed elsewhere and the retired communities of Llandegfan, Glyn Garth, Beaumaris and Benllech do not participate in the workforce but are included in the per capita denominator. Both these factors may also contribute to the seemingly counter intuitive result for the Wirral. Finally, one wonders if the GVA statistics adequately reflect the income derived from our B&B and holiday let sectors.

Anonymous said...

Most of the pensioners who've retired here to our land have only come here to die. They might spend a few quid in the local shop or Waitrose but nearly all their finance has been spent elsewhere, Cardiff for instance. But not excluding the other big cities not too far away. So what we are left with is a population of silver surfers and young untrained, unemployed and hopeless. We can't dig oursleves out of a hole without shovels can we?

TGC said...

"it may be we can learn something from them in terms of how they have managed to improve their economic circumstances so rapidly."

I couldn't agree more. But learning from outside isn't an Anglesey strength; in fact, it's a major weakness.

The Council like expenses, so I'm sure they can dream-up and all-expenses paid week-long trip to the Hebrides. Whether they have the capacity to learn, let alone apply any of it, is a matter of some debate...

The Red Flag said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Red Flag said...

It's a very clever and well thought out representation but it's open to interpretation in many ways. Wirral I know well - my father and half-siblings live there. It is an extremly wealthy area in general with a population of around 320,000 with many exclusive villages - Meols, Heswall, Caldy, Wallesey etc etc which have a high proportion of retirees and where property prices border on fantasy. Half the Liverpool and Everton players live there. Also a lot of well-paid workers commute into the Wirral from nearby Ellesmere Port, Chester, Wrexham, Liverpool, Formby/Southport. So internally, although there is wealth there is also the higher than average amount of retirees, mixed with the fact that an awful lot of the workforce do not live in the Wirral but commute in from quite major urban areas very close by.

On the flip side, the Western Isles has a population of around 26500 and requires only a slack handful of well paid jobs to see a quite noticeable increase that would not necesarily be a true picture across the community as a whole. Imagine the impact on the figures that three extra GPs would have. In addition I would speculte also that there is very little commuting going on either inwards or outwards.

Thought provoking as ever though.

Anonymous said...

You may find this shocking, but maybe they, being the succesful regions have a policy of INVESTING IN THE PEOPLE, whereas on this Island there is no Investing in People, because the Welsh Assembly believe that we are UNINVESTABLE..that's my new word, treat is wisely, use it sparingly, don't squander it, the patronising clowns in the Welsh Assembly and it's puppy are the cause of this catastrohic missed opportunity.

The Real Insider. said...

Amazing news for the prosperity of our Local shops and businesses
which will also generate more cash for our hard up Council!

In their wisdom, the Executive lead by Clive McGregor have decided to make a number of our free car parks across the Island Into Pay & Display.

This will in one sweep help thin out the over crowding in our villages & shops and raise vast some of money for our Council in the bargain.

Now isn't this a wonderful idea. It's a wonder no one thought of it before.

TGC said...


It's got some mileage.

So, how about:

UNLIKELY (to be of any tactical use to politicians in the Assembly)

That's got some history already...