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The areas of Britain where people earn the most

Tom Belger
Finance and policy reporter
Canterbury in south-east England, the UK region with the second-highest average earnings. Photo: David Goddard/Getty Images

Official figures published for the first time this month shine a fresh light on levels of pay for workers across Britain today.

Government experts have begun analysing and publishing monthly figures based on the actual incomes of all employees in the UK, rather than simply estimates based on surveys.

The data reveals median average pay - earned by a worker in the middle of the income scale - was £1,833 in October, the most recent figures available.

The new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) show median pay was 3.4% higher in October this year than a year earlier.

Where employees earn the most in the UK

Median UK pay for employees. Chart: ONS / HMRC

The figures also highlight the stark divisions in levels of pay and pay rises between residents of different regions and nations of the UK.

London employees have the highest median pay of any region, with the average resident earning £2,212 a month in the three months to October. But living costs are also far more expensive, offsetting higher incomes for many workers.

The south-east recorded the second-highest incomes, with earnings of £1,959 a month. Eastern England ranked third highest (£1,881) and Scotland fourth (£1,854).

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Meanwhile the average employee in Northern Ireland earned the least of any part of the UK, taking home £1,685 a month.

Yorkshire and the Humber had the second-lowest average PAYE incomes (£1,700), with earnings in Wales only slightly higher (£1,711).

Where pay is rising fastest

Median pay grew was 3.4% higher in October compared to a year earlier, but some parts of the UK saw much higher growth than others.

Scotland saw the fastest growth, with pay 4% higher than a year earlier. Northern Ireland and Wales, with some of the lowest employee incomes, saw the second and third fastest growth rates of 3.7% and 3.4% respectively.

Wages in the capital were up by less than the national average at 3.2% higher.

The north-east of England had the lowest pay growth, up 2.8% year-on-year.

Where the figures come from

The ONS said the data comes from the latest HMRC pay-as-you-earn (PAYE) information on workers’ incomes. But the data only includes employees’ pay, and does not cover the self-employed or earnings not paid via PAYE such as property or investment income.

“It covers the whole population rather than a sample of people or companies, and will allow for more detailed estimates of the population,” the ONS said earlier this month.

The Resolution Foundation think tank welcomed the new data, saying it means “we can see what's happening to typical pay packets throughout the country, and across the distribution, on a monthly basis.”

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