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Compendium of UK Statistics: the Economy

Main comparisons: Economy

This economy theme has been produced as part of the Compendium of UK Statistics and presents key, comparable statistics for the four countries of the UK. The statistics provided are the latest comparable figures as available on 5 June 2014.

Given that there is no single measure that encapsulates the economy as a whole, this Compendium pulls together comparable statistics on a number of aspects of economic performance where they are available.

The full data catalogue provides web links to the statistical releases and assessments of the comparability of the statistics. The figures presented here have been assessed as fully comparable.

For more detail please see the text below the infographic and the 'find out more' page.

Economy infographic

Output and Productivity

The UK workplace nominal Gross Value Added (GVA) per head1 for 2012 was £21,295 (excluding economic activity which cannot be assigned to any specific region, such as North Sea oil and gas extraction). By country GVA per head was highest for England (£21,937), followed by Scotland (£20,013), Northern Ireland (£16,127) and Wales (£15,401). 

In 2012, England’s GVA made up 84.8% of the UK’s GVA (on the nominal workplace measure). The share of UK’s GVA for Scotland was 7.7%, followed by Wales with 3.4% and Northern Ireland with 2.1% – reflecting, in part, their relative population sizes. In addition, 1.7% could not be allocated to any country.

Between Q4 2012 and Q4 2013, the year on year change in Scottish gross domestic product (GDP) at constant basic prices was an increase of 1.7%. This is fully comparable with the UK GVA2 figure of 2.7% for the UK as a whole. Over a longer period (from 1998 to 2013), GDP grew by an average annual rate of 1.7% in Scotland and 1.8% in the UK. Fully comparable statistics are not available for England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Productivity, as measured by nominal GVA per hour worked, was highest in 2012 for England (1.5% above the UK average), and followed by Scotland (2.6% below the UK average), Wales (14.8% below the UK average) and Northern Ireland (17.2% below the UK average). 

Consumer price inflation rates are only available for the UK as a whole and are not available at country level. 

In Q1 2014, 74.1% of goods exported from the UK to non-UK countries were from England, 6.3% from Scotland, 4.9% from Wales and 2.0% from Northern Ireland3. The remaining 12.6% were not allocated to any country or region. Over the same period, 83.4% of goods imported to the UK from non-UK countries were to England, 3.7% to Scotland, 1.8% to Wales and 1.4% to Northern Ireland4. The remaining 9.8% were not allocated to any country or region. There are no figures for trade flows between constituent countries of the UK.

Employment and Earnings

For January to March 2014, the UK employment rate for those aged from 16 to 64 was 72.7%. The equivalent figures for the countries were 73.5% for Scotland, 72.9% for England, 70.0% for Wales and 67.8% for Northern Ireland.

For January to March 2014, the UK unemployment rate for those aged 16 and over was 6.8%. The equivalent figures for the countries were 7.2% for Northern Ireland, 6.8% for both England and Wales, and 6.4% for Scotland.

For Q4 2013, Northern Ireland has the highest public sector employment as a percentage of total employment (27.9%) followed by Wales (24.0%) and then Scotland (22.1%). England had the lowest percentage in public sector employment (17.4%).

In December 2013, England had an estimated 27.8 million workforce jobs (85.1% of the UK total), compared with 2.7 million in Scotland (8.1% of the total), 1.4 million in Wales (4.2% of the total) and 0.8 million in Northern Ireland (2.5% of the total). The services sector made up 83.7% of workforce jobs in England, 81.0% in Scotland, 78.3% in Wales and 77.7% in Northern Ireland. Manufacturing accounted for 7.7% of workforce jobs in England, 7.6% in Scotland, 10.4% in Wales and 10.4% in Northern Ireland.

Provisional figures from 2013 show that England has the highest median full-time gross weekly earnings by place of work (£520.50), the only country with earnings higher than the UK average (£517.50). This is followed by Scotland (£508.30), Wales (£472.30) and Northern Ireland which had the lowest earnings (£460.00).

England accounted for 85.3% of UK Gross Disposable Household Income (GDHI) in 2012, while Scotland accounted for 8.1% and Wales and Northern Ireland accounted for 4.2% and 2.4% respectively. In 2012 GDHI per head was £17,066 in England, £16,267 in Scotland, £14,623 in Wales and £13,902 in Northern Ireland. This compared with £16,791 for the UK overall.

Public Expenditure

HM Treasury publish a country and regional breakdown of UK public expenditure. Around 86% of this public expenditure is split by country and region (‘identifiable expenditure’). In 2012/13, the UK average identifiable spend per head was £8,788. Northern Ireland had the highest total identifiable public expenditure at £10,876 per head. This was followed by Scotland with £10,152 per head, and Wales at £9,709. England was the only country below the UK average with £8,529 per head. The remaining 14% of non-identifiable expenditure is deemed to be incurred on behalf of the UK as a whole5.

Taxation - Household

In 2009/10 to 2011/12, the annual average direct tax (such as income tax and National Insurance) paid by all UK households was £7,360 per household. By country, Scotland paid £7,056 per household, Northern Ireland paid £5,647 and Wales paid £5,564.

This pattern is slightly different for indirect taxes (such as VAT and fuel duties) where the UK average was £5,172 per household per year. Northern Ireland paid more than the average (£6,148), while Scotland and Wales were below average (£4,943 and £4,608 respectively). These figures are estimates based on a survey and not an administrative data source. For more information see the Effects of Taxes and Benefits on Household Income Publication in the data catalogue. A total England figure is not available within this release.

Taxation – Total (including firms and households)

There are currently no agreed official estimates of total taxes raised in the four nations. Estimates of taxes raised in Scotland have been published by the Scottish Government since 1992 and estimates of taxes raised in Northern Ireland have been published by the Northern Ireland Executive since 2008. Estimates for England and Wales have not historically been published. In October 2013, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) published experimental statistics of its first estimates of taxes raised in the four nations, which differed in some areas. HMRC and the Devolved Administrations recognise that it is not helpful to have differing published estimates of tax receipts and are committed to working together to develop a shared methodology for estimating regional tax receipts.

One issue is how to attribute the North Sea Revenues between the countries (all UK revenue and net borrowing numbers, unless stated, include total revenues). Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS - National Statistics) has published estimates of North Sea revenues generated in Scottish water. (GERS figures excluding government revenues from UK oil and gas production are presented below). As mentioned above, HMRC has produced some experimental statistics which allocate the revenues, including North Sea Revenues, between the four countries. More detail on both of these series (and detail on oil production statistics) can be found in the full data catalogue.

In 2011/12, total public sector revenue, excluding government revenues from UK oil and gas production, collected in Scotland was estimated at £46.3 billion (8.2% of total UK non-oil and gas production revenue). These are National Statistics from GERS. In Northern Ireland the equivalent figure was £14.1 billion or 2.5% of the equivalent UK total. The figures for Northern Ireland are not National Statistics but are fully comparable with Scotland and the UK. 

Public sector finance – borrowing and debt

In 2012/13, UK public sector net borrowing6 was £115.1 billion (7.4% of UK GDP), this excludes transfers related to the Bank of England Asset Purchase Facility and Royal Mail Pension Scheme. When these two transfers are included net borrowing was £80.7 billion (5.1% of UK GDP). These figures are for the same time period as the latest available figures for Scotland.

For 2012/13, the Scottish Government's estimate of the net fiscal balance (called net borrowing in the UK Public Sector Finances) was a deficit of £17.6 billion (14.0% of Scottish GDP) excluding government revenues from UK oil and gas production. The GERS publication also included an estimated equivalent figure including a per capita share of North Sea, this was £17.1 billion (13.3% of Scottish GDP), and an estimate that includes an illustrative geographic share of North Sea, £12.1 billion (8.3% of Scottish GDP). These GERS estimates are National Statistics; they are illustrative estimates under the current constitutional arrangements.

The latest data available from Department of Finance and Personnel Northern Ireland is for 2011/12. The figure for Northern Ireland was an estimated deficit of £9.6 billion (33.1% of NI GVA). Figures for Northern Ireland are not National Statistics. In 2011/12, the equivalent UK public sector net borrowing6 figure was £118.0 billion (7.6% of UK GDP). The Scottish Government figures for this time period are a deficit of £18.6 billion (14.7% of Scottish GDP) excluding government revenues from UK oil and gas production. Including a per capita share of North Sea, this was £17.6 billion (13.7% of Scottish GDP), and the estimate that includes an illustrative geographic share of North Sea was £8.6 billion (5.8% of Scottish GDP). 

The most recent financial year figures for UK are for 2013/14 when net borrowing was £107.4 billion (6.6% of UK GDP), this excludes transfers related to the Bank of England Asset Purchase Facility. When these transfers are included, net borrowing was £95.2 billion (5.8% of UK GDP). Figures on the overall fiscal position (deficit) are not available for England and Wales separately.

In 2011/12, UK public sector net debt7 was 71.2% of GDP. At the end of the financial year 2013/14, the most recent figure, UK public sector net debt had increased to 76.0% of GDP. There are no Official Statistics that allocate this debt between the four nations of the UK. This is because the vast majority of UK debt is issued in the form of gilts and HM Treasury bills which are liabilities of the UK Government. More information on the availability of both debt and deficit figures can be found in the UK Statistics Authority monitoring report 10.


At the start of 2013, Business Population Estimates showed that Scotland8 had the fewest registered private businesses per 10,000 adults9 in the UK at 740, followed by 753 in Wales, 785 in Northern Ireland and 984 in England.

Statistics from the Business Demography release show that, of the businesses newly registered for VAT or PAYE in 2007, a higher proportion survived until their 5th anniversary10 in Scotland (47.4%) than in England (44.4%), Northern Ireland (44.0%), and Wales (43.6%). Of those registered in 2011, a similar proportion survived in 2012 in Wales (94.2%), Scotland (93.9%) and England (93.1%), with a lower rate in Northern Ireland (90.1%).

In 2012, the vast majority of business expenditure on research and development in the UK was spent in England (91.8%). Scotland had the second highest percentage (4.1%), followed by Northern Ireland (2.5%) and Wales (1.6%).

In 2012, £27.0 billion was spent in the UK on research and development by businesses, government, higher education institutions and private non-profit organisations. Of this figure 88.6% was spent in England, 7.1% in Scotland, 2.2% in Northern Ireland and 2.1% in Wales. 


1. Estimates of workplace based GVA allocate incomes to the region in which the economic activity takes place.

2. The standard UK headline growth rate is of GDP at market prices, which is equal to GVA plus taxes (less subsidies) on products. Comparable volume estimates of Scottish GDP at market prices are not available; therefore it is compared to UK GVA which is comparable. 

3. Typically trade is regionalised according to VAT registration, so some exports may be incorrectly allocated to the head office rather than the place of production. An adjustment is made to some businesses to counter this issue and regionalise trade. Not all trade can be assigned to a country or region (for example, trade carried out by persons or entities which cannot be matched to a region, or data relating to Natural Gas and Electricity direct from pipeline and grid operators).

4. Data are regionalised according to VAT registration, so some imports may be incorrectly allocated to the head office rather than the final destination. An adjustment is not made for imports figures.

5. Examples include the majority of expenditure on defence, tax collection and financial sector interventions.

6. Excluding temporary effects of financial interventions.

7. Public sector net debt (often incorrectly referred to as national debt) is the total outstanding amount the government has borrowed (excluding capital expenditure). It excludes temporary effects of financial interventions.

8. Businesses that have sites in more than one region or country are counted here only in the region or country where they are registered.

9. Aged 16 and over.

10. That is, were still in existence in 2012.

For estimates which are derived from surveys (for example, estimates of employment from the Labour Force Survey) differences between the countries may not be statistically significant. Please see the data catalogue for more information.

Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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