Regional earnings divide persists

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The rich regions got richer and the poor ones poorer in 1995, according to the latest regional breakdown published by the Office for National Statistics.

Income per head in London was 25 per cent above the UK average, and 15 per cent above average in the rest of the south-east - both higher than two years earlier. By contrast, incomes in the north-east slipped to 85 per cent of the national average, and in Wales to 84 per cent. Northern Ireland, however, overtook the north-east, with incomes climbing from 86.4 per cent to 87.4 per cent of the average.

Social security benefits accounted for a bigger share of peoples' incomes in Wales than in any other region, making up a fifth of total income per head. At the other extreme, benefits made up only 11 per cent of south- easterners' incomes.