A small leafy enclave to the south-west of London, where Elton John, Cliff Richard, Ringo Starr and Jenson Button live, has been revealed as the biggest payer of income tax in the country.
Esher, Weybridge and Walton-on-Thames, which together form the borough of Elmbridge, pay more to the national coffers than Newcastle and Cardiff combined, despite a population of only 130,000.
The average annual income tax bill in the area is £16,100, more than three times the national average of £4,398, according to UHY Hacker Young, the national accountancy group.
The statistics show how the UK is increasingly reliant on the wealthy Home Counties commuter belt for tax revenue. The 10 places in the UK with the largest average income tax payments are all in the South-east.
The amount paid by Elmbridge outranks many of the UK’s top cities, which are far more populous. Elmbridge residents paid a total of £1.18bn in the past year, more than the total income tax payments of residents in Glasgow (£898m), Sheffield (£812m), Cardiff (£589m), Newcastle (£443m) and even Aberdeen (£728m), where the UK’s booming oil and gas industry is based.
Mark Giddens, who produced the research, said: “There is a growing regional mismatch within England and Wales, with wealth and tax bills becoming concentrated within a handful of cities home to lucrative industries, or a collection of leafy suburbs.
“Governments have attempted to boost the attractiveness of other regions in the UK to top earners. However, the pull of the South-east, culturally, politically and financially is still very strong for the highest earners.”
Elmbridge also regularly wins the annual Quality of Life Survey, set up by Halifax bank in 2007, and has since been dubbed “the Surrey Beverly Hills” by estate agents. The average weekly salary of an Elmbridge resident is nearly £1,200 before tax, the third highest in the country and double the national average of £598, according to the Office for National Statistics.
But the average cost of a home in Elmbridge is £378,823, more than twice the national average of £164,704.
Even the climate is better in Elmbridge. It has less rainfall each year (676mm compared with a national average of 871mm) and more sunshine (32.7 hours, compared to 30 hours).
At the other end of the income tax scale, Blackpool in Lancashire was ranked 100th, paying £2,490 annually. The average for Stoke-on-Trent was also £2,490, with Kingston-upon-Hull residents paying £2,560.