Welsh regions are poorer than rural Poland, statistics reveal

Jun 11 2009 (external - login to view) by Andrew Dagnell, Western Mail

SOME parts of Wales are officially worse off than the poorest parts of rural Poland, a report says.
The study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development also confirms a startling poverty gap between Wales’ most impoverished areas and the wealthiest parts of the UK.
The statistical report singles out Anglesey in particular, where the average Gross Domestic Product is just half that of the UK’s average, while in parts of London it is four times the average.
Critics say the report, which highlights how parts of Britain have managed to profit from an extraordinary upsurge in wealth while others have been left to fall by the wayside, shows how the UK now finds itself as an economically “disunited kingdom”. It states: “Regional disparities in the economic performance within OECD countries are often substantial.
“For example the GDP per capita in Inner London-West is more than four times higher than the national average, while that of the Isle of Anglesey is only half the national average.
“Disparities in economic performance across OECD countries are often smaller than those prevailing among regions of the same country.
“Further, these regional disparities have often persisted over time, even when economic disparities among countries were falling.” According to official figures from the Office for National Statistics, Wales’ Gross Value Added per head – a key economic indicator similar to GDP but excluding taxes and subsidies on production – is £14,877, compared to England’s, which is far greater at £20,463.
Anglesey’s GVA sits at just £10,560 – the lowest in Britain. Meanwhile, the Gwent and South Wales Valleys and South West Wales are all among the lowest GVAs throughout the whole of Britain, according to the statistics.
Last night Welsh Conservative leader Nick Bourne said the report was “deeply shaming” for Wales and that it showed the Government has not done enough to lift problems areas in Wales out of destitution. He said: “Help for areas such as Anglesey is spread very, very thinly. We need to target help to parts of Wales such as Anglesey, parts of West Wales and Ceredigion.
“We have a massive budget but instead the Assembly Government chooses to spend it on its pet schemes.
“The situation really is desperate. There can be improvements made, but not with the policies that are being currently pursued by Labour and Plaid Cymru.
“Their policies will mean that things will get worse – everything they do makes matters worse.”
Mr Bourne said he was particularly worried about the report drawing comparisons with some of the poorest parts of Poland.
He said: “It’s incredibly demoralising for a country with so much in terms of human and natural resources like Wales, and given our history of inventiveness, it will be deeply depressing to see that these countries that came into the EU not long ago and who are extremely poor, doing better than Wales.
“I’ve visited rural Poland and it is pretty poor. This is alarming to me and I can’t bear to think that we’ve been overtaken by rural Poland. We should be streets ahead in terms of prosperity.”
Despite the findings of the report, Wales is still drawing migrants from countries like Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia because of Wales’ supposed high wages and prosperous way of life.
An estimated 20 foreign workers arrive through the doors of specialist employment agencies every month, moving across from Eastern Europe tempted by the prospect of beginning a new life.
Most recent official estimates, which date back to 2007, put the number of eastern Europeans in Wales at around 18,000. However, it is likely that the number has grown to a higher level since then.
Anglesey MP Albert Owen last night hit back at the report and said improvements were being made in his area after low investment in the 1980s and a large depopulation had caused the island’s GDP to drop.
He said: “I accept that it is low, but it is because we are working from a low base. During the ’80s we had the highest unemployment in Wales and a large number of people left the island. We were the only place in Wales where the population went down.
“The other thing is that GDP and GVA also take into account the high proportion of retired people that live in Anglesey, which brings the figure down. However, the island’s income is the second highest in North and Mid Wales.
“Anywhere you go will have poor parts – in London there will be worse off boroughs next to Kensington.
“But we are closing the gap on the rest of Wales and things are beginning to turn around.”
A spokesman for the Welsh Assembly Government said: “It is certainly the case that levels of GDP per capita in parts of Wales are historically and comparatively low when compared with other parts of the UK.
“The OECD report suggests that regional GDP per capita comparisons can be distorted by commuting patterns which is likely to be the case in relation to the Isle of Anglesey, which has a high level of net outward commuting. It is encouraging, however, that Gross Disposable Household Income estimates – which are not affected by commuting patterns – show that Anglesey has performed better than some other parts of the UK.
“However, we acknowledge that there is more that needs to be done to in order to raise prosperity across all parts of Wales. Regional disparities within Wales are one of the key drivers for our “One Wales” ambition of improving the Welsh economy.
“The Deputy First Minister yesterday outlined his priorities for building a stronger, more sustainable economy as Wales moves beyond the recession.
“ As part of the action we’re taking in the North West of Wales, we are improving transport links and targeting resources on regenerating areas such as Môn and Menai.
“We want to ensure that the next generation gets the best possible access to good training, job opportunities and a good quality of life.”

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dghdavies (external - login to view) wrote:
Maybe its time for Wales to reject socialism, just as the Poles have.

It saddend me greatly to say this, but Wales is currenty a client state of the English Middle Classes via the Tax take. Where is the initiative or enterprise?

Who will fund an independent Wales when 70%+ of jobs are either directly or indirectly funded by the UK state?

That 70% reliance needs a lot of work to get it reduced. Time for a little more "Brains" and "More Positive Thinking".
11/6/2009 12:40 PM BST on walesonline.co.uk