Tuesday, 1 July 2014

What happens to your disposable income?

Here's a mind boggling statistic for you. I worked it out all by myself. There appears to be £883,390,008 worth of disposable income sloshing around the bank accounts, hip pockets and money boxes of the Scottish Borders each year, according to a new report from the Office of National Statistics.

"So what?", I hear you yell, for that was pretty much my reaction when my eyes first lighted on the figures for Gross Disposable Household Income (GDHI). Well apparently statistics like these provide a fairly accurate indication of how local economies are performing, so we'd better take a closer look. The Borders figure for 2012 was £16,748, so keep that in mind.

It is only fair to supply readers with an idiot's guide to disposable income at the outset. I wouldn't like you to think as I did that all of this spare cash was waiting to be frittered away on stag parties, a day at the races, or a trip to Brazil to watch England being stuffed at football.

The statisticians and analysts who prepared the latest collection of figures - call them killjoys if you must - describe GDHI as the total amount of money each household has available for spending or saving after the tax man and the Natural Insurance lot get their respective pounds of flesh. It represents the total amount we have to spend on everything, including housing, utility bills, food and other essentials.

By the time you've settled the rent or mortgage, paid for your gas and electricity, and set the supermarket tills ringing there is unlikely to be much leftover for the pleasures of life.

Nevertheless, between 1997 and 2012 the level of disposable income for each of the 52,746 households in the Borders improved by 88.9%, well above the Scottish average of 74.8%. Here's hoping you feel both prosperous and satisfied with £16,748 at your disposal, and at least be grateful that the Borders figure is almost £500 above the Scotland median of £16,267.

After all we only have a very small distance to travel up the GDHI scale to catch up with the UK average of £16,791, and the Borders easily outstrips Northern Ireland (£13,902) and Wales (£14,623).

We feature ninth on the list of 32 Scottish local authority area figures topped by affluent Edinburgh on £19,107 and tailed by not so affluent Glasgow at £14,161. It means the citizens of Edinburgh have, on average, 35% more disposable income than their counterparts in Scotland's largest city.

The area which has seen the largest increase over the last 15 years is Orkney where households were £10,500 or an impressive 141% better off in 2012 than they were in 1997. Glasgow is at the bottom of this league too with an increase of just £5,500 or 63%.

Here in the Borders multiply £16,748 by 52,746 (number of households) and you get that mighty sum of £883,390,008 mentioned in line one of this post. Here's hoping you're spending your share wisely!

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