UK professionals working in Aberdeen, Sheffield and Cardiff are officially the richest workers in Britain in 2020. That’s according to our latest research, conducted in partnership with Zoopla, the UK’s leading property portal.  

The data reveals that those living and working in London were the poorest, despite earning the highest average salary in the UK of £2,410.86 per month. Comparing the same basic living costs against average salaries in 18 of the UK’s key cities, the study reveals the following: 

  • Workers in Aberdeen have the highest disposable income, despite workers in sister cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow receiving the fourth and sixth lowest disposable incomes, respectively 
  • The highest monthly salaries are earned by workers in London, Aberdeen and Edinburgh, while the lowest are in Hull, Leicester and Liverpool 
  • Hull is the cheapest city to rent in, followed by Aberdeen and Sheffield, while London, Brighton and Edinburgh are the most expensive 

Richest to poorest UK workers*: 

City  Average monthly salary  Basic monthly costs  Remaining income 
Aberdeen  £2,278.66  £780.84  £1,497.82 
Sheffield  £2,156.74  £860.47  £1,296.27 
Cardiff  £2,162.09  £912.38  £1,249.71 
Hull  £1,958.13  £746.47  £1,211.66 
Southampton  £2,088.01  £889.27  £1,198.74 
Exeter  £2,203.14  £1,010.20  £1,192.94 
Liverpool  £2,043.28  £890.43  £1,152.85 
Portsmouth  £2,079.34  £932.95  £1,146.39 
Leeds  £2,100.79  £959.97  £1,140.82 
Newcastle  £2,075.61  £935.65  £1,139.96 
Bristol  £2,210.04  £1,087.47  £1,122.57 
Birmingham  £2,104.58  £987.81  £1,116.77 
Glasgow  £2,061.88  £947.88  £1,114.00 
Leicester  £1,976.45  £904.33  £1,072.12 
Edinburgh  £2,254.66  £1,192.79  £1,061.87 
Manchester  £2,121.30  £1,107.93  £1,013.37 
Brighton  £2,223.72  £1,300.94  £922.78 
London  £2,410.86  £2,149.89  £260.97 

*Average monthly salary taken from CV-Library data between 1st June and 31st August 2020. Basic monthly costs include rent for a one bed flat (data provided by Zoopla), relevant council tax, a local monthly travel card, basic utility bills and groceries. 

Monthly living costs 

Once again, these findings show that Hull is the cheapest city to live in, followed closely by Aberdeen and Sheffield. These low living costs go some way to explain why workers in these cities are among the richest in the UK. In contrast, London, Brighton and Edinburgh are the most expensive cities to live in.  

In addition to this, the study explored the average cost of purchasing a one-bed flat in each of these UK cities. The percentage of monthly income that would need to be spent on mortgage repayments is highest in London (92.5%), Brighton (52.1%) and Bristol (43.5%). This is followed by Edinburgh (39.5%) and Exeter (34.2%).  

As you might expect, the lowest percentages are seen in Aberdeen (16.2%), Hull (17%), Newcastle (18.8%) and Sheffield (20.2%). These results clearly show that the North/South divide still effects the wages and living costs of professionals in the UK. 

Monthly wages 

There’s no doubt that the last few months have been trying for businesses across the country. However, it’s vital that you continue to offer employees a fair salary. If staff are unable to cover their living costs, it can have devastating results in the long term.  

The research reveals that the average take home pay is highest in London, where the average salary is £2,410.86 per month. This is closely followed by Aberdeen (£2,278.66 per month) and Edinburgh (£2,254.66 per month). This high wage, combined with low living costs, explains why workers in Aberdeen are the wealthiest in the UK.  

On the other end of the spectrum, Hull (£1,958.13 per month), Leicester (£1,976.45 per month) and Liverpool (£2,043.28 per month) receive the lowest average take home pay in the country. 

Interestingly, average pay has increased in several major cities across the UKBut, this may be short lived. As new lockdown restrictions come into effect and financial support from the government ends, salaries are likely to drop.   

Disposable income 

If you compare basic living costs to average take home pay, the research shows that workers in Aberdeen (£1,497.82 per month), Sheffield (£1,296.27 per month) and Cardiff (£1,249.71 per month) have the highest disposable income. This means that professionals in these cities are the richest in the UK. 

Conversely, workers in London (£260.97 per month), Brighton (£922.78 per month), Manchester (£1,013.37 per month) and Edinburgh (£1,061.87 per month) have the lowest disposable income, despite earning a higher wage. This is unsurprising given that these cities have the highest basic living costs in the country. 

What has changed year-on-year 

The study is conducted on an annual basis and reveals some fluctuations in the findings over the past 12 months:  

  • Disposable income has increased the most in the following locations: Sheffield (up 40.3%), Cardiff (up 33.1%), Bristol (up 32.2%) and Liverpool (up 25.5%) 
  • However, it has dropped in Edinburgh (down 4.9%) and Hull (down 2.2%) 
  • Disposable income in Glasgow and Edinburgh has dropped by eight and 12 places respectively since last year’s research 
  • Workers in Aberdeen still remain some of the richest across the UK, thanks to strong salaries and lower living costs 

Wealth in the UK  

As an employer, you have no control over the cost of living in your area. However, you can control the wage you give your staff. Coronavirus restrictions mean that many businesses are struggling at the momentWhile it can be tempting to offer lower wages to combat this, it can seriously impact your employees.  

Therefore, whether you’re based in one of the richest or poorest cities in the UK, it’s vital that you always offer a fair, living wage.  

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