Many Lancashire folk live in areas with some of the lowest disposable incomes of anywhere in the UK.
And the gap with the South is getting wider, according to new government figures.
The Office for National Statistics’ regional gross disposable household income figures show that people in the North West had £16,861 per head to save or spend in 2017 after paying tax, lower than any English region except the North East and Yorkshire.
While that was an increase of 0.5 per cent on the previous year, with inflation running at 2.6 per cent , their spending power fell in real terms.
People in Manchester and Blackburn fared particularly badly. Manchester residents had just £13,355 per head to live on after tax, the fifth lowest in the UK, while those in Blackburn with Darwen were left with just £12,623, the third lowest in the UK.
In Mid Lancashire, including Preston, that figure was £17,924.
By contrast, residents in the London boroughs of Kensington & Chelsea, and Hammersmith & Fulham – the most affluent areas - had £60,343 per head after tax, more than four times as much.
The insolvency trade body R3 says the figures reflect the growing levels of personal insolvency. In 2017, the North West had the third highest overall rate of personal insolvency in England and Wales, at 24.2 per 10,000 adult population, up seven per cent on the previous year’s rate.
R3’s North West chair Paul Barber, who is also a partner at Begbies Traynor, said: “Despite talk of the Northern Powerhouse, the gap between the North and South remains and, as incomes are growing more rapidly in London and the South East than in the North West, it is getting wider all the time.
“For many families, their incomes are failing to keep up with inflation so they are effectively getting worse off. This is reflected in the North West’s personal insolvency rate, and in the proportion of people with debt concerns.”
Disposable incomes by area:
Chorley and West Lancs £17,747
Mid Lancashire £17,924
East Lancashire £14,940
Lancaster and Wyre £16,124