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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 December 2005, 11:27 GMT
North-South divide 'blown away'
The angel of the north
Living standards in parts of the North are as high as in the South
There is only a small North-South divide in living standards in England and Wales, according to Barclays.

The bank looked at salaries and living costs to assess which areas enjoyed the highest living standards.

Areas in London came top, but nearly half the best 50 locations were in the north, including parts of Cheshire, Sheffield and Leeds.

Barclays said the study "blew away" the idea you have to live in London or the South East for high living standards.

Standards assessed

The group found people in the south of England still enjoyed higher salaries than those in the north of England and Wales.

If the cost of living is factored into the equation... the wealth map of England and Wales changes dramatically
Mark Till, Barclays

But when living costs were factored in to reach an assessment of standards of living, then the North-South divide closed markedly.

In total 24 of the 50 areas with the highest living standards were north of the line between the Severn and the Wash.

The highest placed northern area was Tatton in Cheshire, which came third.

Other parts of the North to make it into the top ten included Sheffield Hallam, Altringham and Sale.

Macclesfield, Harrogate, Hexham, and Haltemprice and Howden all missed out on a top 10 slot but made it into the top 20.

"Simply looking at earnings would tell you that it is London and the south east that are paved with gold," said Mark Till, Barclays spokesman.

"However, this is not the only factor which determines how wealthy any individual actually feels.

"If the cost of living is factored into the equation... the wealth map of England and Wales changes dramatically."

TOP 20 AREAS IN ENGLAND AND WALES BY LIVING STANDARDS
Region Area Average earnings Earnings after living costs
London Kensington & Chelsea 50,438 50,438
London Cities of London and Westminster 41,868 41,868
North West Tatton 32,763 41,466
Yorkshire Sheffield, Hallam 29,738 39,697
South West Cotswold 30,770 38,295
South East Beaconsfield 37,152 38,102
Yorkshire Leeds North East 28,415 37,931
North West Altrincham and Sale 29,582 37,440
London Richmond Park 37,203 37,203
North West Macclesfield 29,301 37,085
South East Esher and Walton 36,054 36,975
South East Mole Valley 36,043 36,964
South East South West Surrey 35,791 36,705
West Midlands Stratford-on-Avon 27,753 35,873
Yorkshire Harrogate and Knaresborough 26,870 35,833
East Midlands West Derbyshire 28,574 35,471
West Midlands Warwick 27,241 35,212
Yorkshire Haltemprice 26,376 35,209
South East Maidenhead 34,305 35,182
East Midlands Rushcliffe 28,307 35,137
Source: Barclays




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