Scotland sees highest growth in average household wealth in last decade, report finds

Scotland has experienced the highest growth in average household wealth in the last decade at 66%, according to the St James’ Place Financial Health Index.

Scotland sees highest growth in average household wealth in last decade, report finds

This compares to 19% for London and 18% in the North East of England.

The SJP UK Financial Health Index, developed in conjunction with the Centre of Economics and Business Research (CEBR), analyses how wealth is distributed across the nation and where financial health is strongest.

The Index is broken down into three distinct pillars: Wealth, Wealth Drivers, and Perceived Financial Wellbeing1, with each pillar consisting of several indicators which measure a certain element of an individual’s financial position.

The index also found that financial health is four times higher in the South East than the North East, underlining the scale of efforts needed for ‘levelling up’ financial wealth and wellbeing across the country.

The Index highlights a clear North-South divide with the South West, the South East and the East of England performing much better on the Index than their northern counterparts. The South-East is the region with the strongest overall financial health, with a score of 76 out of a possible 100. Meanwhile, the North East is the lowest ranked region, attaining a score of only 19.

When it comes to perceived wellbeing, the South East and London performed relatively poorly, despite being two of the highest ranking regions on the Wealth and Wealth Drivers pillars.

Despite average total wealth in London at approximately £1 million, substantially more than any other region and the UK average of £384,208, the capital ranked the fourth lowest UK region for perceived wellbeing.

When looking at two indicators in particular - being up to date with all bills and whether financial constraints impact quality of life - London attained the lowest score across all regions for both. In addition, the disparity between the average total wealth in London and the rest of the country is largely due to property prices which accounts for over half of Londoners’ average total wealth.

Similarly, despite the South East topping the table in terms of financial, pension and physical wealth, issues such as cost of living and being unable to handle an unexpected bill drive much poorer relative perceptions of wealth in the region – ranking 6th out of the 12 regions on the Perceived Wellbeing pillar.

Scotland ranks the highest in terms of perceived wellbeing, despite coming mid-table in the Wealth and Wealth Drivers categories (6th and 5th respectively).

Wales and Northern Ireland score low on the SJP UK Financial Health Index – 32 and 21 respectively – placing them third and second lowest after the North East. Northern Ireland scores lowest (13) and Wales scores third lowest (23) on the Wealth Drivers pillar, and they rank lowest on perceived wealth too. People in Wales are most likely to attribute their growth in wealth to rising house prices (45%), and least likely to attribute wealth growth to investment performance (19%), while Northern Ireland is the region most likely to cite the cost of living as the key impediment behind wealth growth (51%).

The Index also reveals stark findings around how financially resilient, comfortable and wealthy the nation feels regarding their current financial situation. Across the whole of the UK, a third (29%) felt financially vulnerable, more than half (51%) stated that they were not financially comfortable and three-quarters (78%) of the population stated they did not consider themselves wealthy.

Those who felt financially vulnerable believe it would take a doubling of their current wealth to make them financially resilient, while for those that do not feel wealthy think it would take ten times their current financial position change this.

A third of the UK public (34%) reported that rising property prices was the main reason behind their increase in wealth, ranking this as the second highest contributing factor for wealth growth, just behind the leading driver, pay rises (35%). Lifestyle changes enabling greater savings came in third (30%). However, in London, where house prices are much higher than many other parts of the country, 59% said that traditional investments (shares, funds), alternative investments, or cryptocurrency were the key drivers of their wealth growth over the last ten years, compared to 30% of Londoners that attribute wealth growth to rising house prices.

Alex Loydon, director of partner engagement and consultancy, St. James’s Place, commented: “Financial health captures much more than just our total wealth, it assesses the full picture of how comfortable and resilient we feel to handle pressures on our finances. The UK Financial Health Index shows that not only is wealth unevenly spread around the UK, but in some areas, there is a clear mismatch between the reality of people’s wealth and their own perception of being wealthy, meaning that people across all regions are experiencing poor financial health in one way or another.

“Clearly this is a complex picture and there are many factors that are impacting financial wellbeing across the country, and some of these are well outside our individual control while others require collective action. However, with the cost of living rising and greater strains on our money, it’s more important than ever to engage with finances and to have a plan in place. The research shows the impact that can have on people feeling much more confident about their future security and we see the value that provides through the work of our Partners to help clients across the country plan for their future.”

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