Inner London's glittering hub is most affluent region of EU

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The Independent Online

Feted worldwide as a glittering hub of the global economy, inner London yesterday underlined its primacy in Europe as a metropolis dedicated to wealth creation by retaining its position as the European Union's richest region.

The average resident in the capital is now more than three times wealthier than the EU average and much of the rest of the United Kingdom. Such is the amount of money being made in the heart of London it comfortably beats its nearest EU competitors – the Duchy of Luxembourg and Brussels – as the wealthiest area in Europe.

The figures are further confirmation that an influx of plutocrats, a benign tax environment and the burgeoning success of the City as a key centre for investment in the world economy have made inner London a truly global player.

Time magazine last month declared that along with New York and Hong Kong, London epitomised globalisation, and a study by The Independent in December found the capital outstripped all rivals as a centre of economic growth and cultural importance.

Taking 100 as the benchmark average for wealth across the EU, the study by Eurostat, the EU's statistical arm, also underlined the growing wealth gap in Britain. Inner London scored 303, ahead of Luxembourg with 264 and the Belgian capital with 241. The only other British region to enter the top 10 was the Thames Valley, which scored 168.

The annual review of relative wealth, which was based on statistics from 2005, the most recent data of the type used by Eurostat, showed an alarming disparity between inner London and the poorest British region, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, which had a rating of 77.4. It was only narrowly ahead of West Wales and the Valleys with 79.

It also showed the peculiarly concentrated nature of the capital's wealth. Inner London, an area roughly defined by the north and south circular roads, was three times wealthier than the rest of the EU. Outer London was barely above the average for the continent with 108.5. The core of the capital has enjoyed a dramatic increase in its wealth compared to its rivals.

When it first overhauled Hamburg as the richest region in 1999, its score was 222, meaning it has increased its wealth by nearly 50 per cent in a decade, compared to about 40 per cent for Luxembourg and Brussels. It is now also twice as wealthy as the bottom three of the top 10 in Europe.

Eurostat said the wealth figures were being significantly influenced by the influx of "commuters" or people who had been born outside each region and had travelled to the areas to benefit from a buoyant economy.

In a statement, it said: "Net commuter flows in these regions push up production flows to a level that could not be achieved by the resident active population on its own."

The claim is borne out by a London Labour Force Survey which estimated that a third of the capital's residents were born outside the city.

The statistics also showed the divide between western and eastern Europe. The Czech capital, Prague, was the only area formerly in the Soviet bloc to make the top 10. The 15 lowest rankings were all in Bulgaria, Romania and Poland, with north-east Romania recording the lowest per capita wealth score of just 24 per cent of the EU average.

Purchasing power

Wealthiest regions per capita in purchasing-power terms (EU average is 100):

Inner London - 303

Luxembourg - 264

Brussels - 241

Hamburg - 202

Vienna - 178

Ile de France - 173

Stockholm - 172

Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire - 168

Oberbayen (Germany) - 166

Groningen (Netherlands) - 164

Hovedstaden (Denmark) - 161

Prague - 160

Utrecht (Netherlands) - 158

South and east Ireland - 158

Darmstadt (Germany) - 158