High cost of houses in the South-east means northerners are now better off

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The Independent Online

Eight of the 10 richest places in England are now in the north of the country, research from Barclays shows.

While people in the South may have higher salaries, northerners enjoy bigger disposable incomes because of lower house prices and living costs.

Cheshire, home to some of the richest people in Britain, offers the most value for money, say researchers. They calculated average salaries in English constituencies, and linked those to the cost of living to establish the real value of disposable income.

Tatton in Cheshire – the constituency once represented by the former Tory MP Neil Hamilton – topped the table, with the average salary of £29,000 actually worth more than £40,000 once the cost of living was taken into account. Neighbouring Cheadle, where David and Victoria Beckham have a £2m home, came seventh. The average salary of about £26,700 is worth £37,800 in real terms.

Other Cheshire residents include the Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, the former Take That star Gary Barlow and the Duke of Westminster, Britain's richest man.

The Hallam area of Sheffield was second on the list, with an average income of about £29,150, worth £41,300 in real terms.

The only London borough to make it into the top 10 was Kensington and Chelsea, and that was because its residents earn so much that they can afford the high cost of living in the capital.

Of the top 50 wealthiest areas, 12 are in the North-west and seven are in Yorkshire, with just four in London and three in the South-east. While people in the South have seen their salaries eaten up by rising house prices, northerners have had more ready cash with which to enjoy life, according to the analysts.

Gordon Rankin, marketing director of Barclays Private Clients, said: "The reversal in relative fortunes when cost of living is taken into account could well be a major factor behind the changes we are witnessing in the housing market. Housing costs in London and the South-east are levelling off and even falling in some areas, as consumers simply cannot afford to chase house prices higher. In the North, the real value of disposable income gives some headroom for continued house price growth."