North East households 'have become poorer'

Houses Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The survey was based on 21,000 face-to-face interviews between 2010 and 2012

North-east England is the only region in Britain where households have become poorer, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show.

The survey found the typical wealth of households in the region was now £16,000 less than it was in 2006-08.

The study, carried out between 2010 and 2012, found that in every other region, households had an increase in wealth.

In 2006-08, the typical household in the North East had wealth of £158,700, which fell to £142,700 in 2010-12.

In comparison, typical household wealth in the south-east of England rose £36,300 from £273,400 in 2006-08 to £309,700 in 2010-12. In the same period in Yorkshire and the Humber, household wealth went from £164,300 to £184,200.

The ONS asked people about the value of their home, the financial assets they had including earnings and savings, the value of things they owned and the amount they had saved in a private pension.

The decline in north-east England is being put down to a number of factors including a fall in the region's house prices and a decline in the financial assets people have at their disposal.

One of the biggest problems facing homeowners in the region has been the fall in property prices and the rise in the number of people trapped in negative equity.

'Boils down to jobs'

In April, property analyst Countrywide found 53% of the region's first-time buyers in 2007 still had homes worth less than they originally paid for them.

Emma Wicks from Bridgfords Estate Agents in Darlington said: "There is an issue, but it's nowhere near as bad as it was 12 to 18 months ago.

"House prices are moving and things are going up, all be it slowly and not in line with the rest of the country."

Unemployment and the fact wages are under pressure are other factors contributing to the fall in the wealth of the North East.

The region still has the highest unemployment rate in the country, which currently stands at 10.1%.

Businessman and former Newcastle United owner Freddy Shepherd said: "It boils down to jobs, and jobs bring money to the area and that's the problem.

"We need jobs up here and we need government help. I'm not having a go at the Tories or Labour, but they haven't given us the help we need."

'Freezing fuel duty'

A Treasury spokesman said: "The government's long-term economic plan is working and Britain is coming back.

"Income inequality is at its lowest level since 1986, and the main measure of wealth inequality has remained constant since this survey began in 2006.

"The effects of the great recession are still being felt which is why we have taken continued action to help hardworking people by cutting income tax and freezing fuel duty."

The Wealth Survey conducted by the ONS is based on 21,000 face-to-face interviews conducted with people across Britain between 2010 and 2012.

These results have been compared with previous surveys conducted by the ONS in 2006-08 and 2008-10.

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