WEARSIDERS’ wallets are swelling at a faster rate than elsewhere in the country, according to new research.
Sunderland has been ranked eighth-highest in the UK when it comes to growth in disposable income in a report by accountants UHY Hacker Young.
The report does warn, however, that more public sector budget cuts on the way could see the growth in some towns and cities reverse.
The figures show the amount of spare money households have to spend after bills rose by 19.5 per cent between 2004 to 2009 – out-growing Newcastle, which ranked 16th, and more affluent areas in the South.
Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson said: “We are delighted but not surprised at the results of this national research, which shows that Sunderland has had the eighth-highest rise in gross disposable incomes of the 50 cities covered in the UHY Hacker Young study.
“From our constant monitoring and understanding of the city’s economic performance, we know that Sunderland hosts two strongly performing employment sectors and this has been a key factor in the city avoiding the worst effects of the original global recession and economic climate.”
Coun Watson said the study reflected the fact that the automotive sector, particularly Nissan, had been performing well in recent years.
“This has resulted in highly-skilled and well-paid employment opportunities being available for local people,” he said.
“In addition, prior to the recession, the growth in contact centre activity has also resulted in strong growth in employment opportunities within our economy.
“The success in these key employment sectors combined with the city’s affordable housing market, have helped improve people’s levels of gross disposable household income in Sunderland.
“We remain committed to doing what we can to sustain this improvement during through the current economic challenges.”
Gary Hutchinson, chairman of the Sunderland branch of the North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC) also welcomed the figures, and issued a rallying cry for Wearside to push ahead and make further economic improvements.
“This report makes pleasing reading to have the eighth highest increase shows we are attracting the correct types of new jobs which are paying on average higher salaries which is good for the local economy,” he said.
“Developments in manufacturing, software and other developing industries, along with high new business start ups, I expect will be the main contributing factor.
“The challenge, like any area of the UK, is to continue to develop more of the same over the coming months and years.”
Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, said: “These figures show that the last Government’s policies between 2004 and 2009 were really helping increase prosperity in our area – more disposable income means more spending in local shops and businesses, and therefore more jobs in the private sector.”
“My worry is whether we will be able to say the same in five years’ time, with the Tory-led government slashing jobs in the public sector and hitting household incomes hard, which takes money out of our local economy and so strangles off private sector growth, creating the cycle of deprivation that we saw last time we had a Tory government.”