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About the SE

About the South East

The South East has huge potential but also faces significant challenges.  There is a need for more devolved powers and investment to ensure we continue to prosper not only for the benefit of our local communities & businesses, but also the national economy.

Whilst the South East is still performing relatively well on some key economic indicators, SEEC’s Data Dashboard still shows high absolute levels of:

  • Unemployment claimants – 64,340 people (September 2017) this represents an 8.4% increase in unemployment from autumn 2016 to autumn 2017, higher than the national increase of 5.8% over the same period
  • Deprivation – 909,000 young/old people in income deprivation, and relative increases in deprivation compared to rest of England (Index of Multiple Deprivation 2015)

The absolute scale of the challenges is masked if only looking at percentages.

We have the UK’s largest population at 9.1m (2017), projected to grow to 10.5m by 2039. This includes:

  • Especially high growth in older people, eg 75+ year olds rising from 805,000 to 1.5m between 2017-2039  –  a ‘timebomb’ that needs planning for.
  • Significant levels of net international migration – second only to London. Although often economically important, migration also brings implications for public service delivery/resourcing.

The South East had the second highest net addition of homes in 2016/17 at 36,526, a significant 1,684 increase on the previous year.

South East local authorities continue to have concerns about a funding deficit, particularly for infrastructure – for which there is an estimated infrastructure investment gap of £15.4bn by 2030. The fact that many Government grants do not reflect absolute numbers of population also leaves the South East underfunded.

  • There are positive signs of change in the Government’s approach through funding sources such as New Homes Bonus & Growing Places Fund that better reflect real levels of need.

In 2015-16 the South East received England’s lowest revenue settlement and grants from Government at £279 per head. This is £329 per head less than the North East.  The low levels of funding from central Government means  that council tax payers in the South East are paying more towards council services than residents in other parts of the country.

This has been a long standing funding deficit as shown by earlier SEEC work. In 2012 SEEC published research showing  South East formula Grant Funding was well below average – by some £185 per person pa. Implications were evidenced in SEEC’s ‘Fixing a Broken System’ report.  The South East also receives only small proportions of EU and other funding such as the Regional Growth Fund.

For more information see SEEC’s Data Dashboard.