The South West is increasingly a blend between more affluent parts – like some parts of Bristol and Swindon – and increasingly left behind areas.
The region has, for example, the highest and second-highest life expectancy for women and men respectively. Its workforce is also highly educated: the South West has a smaller proportion of working-age people without qualifications than any other region.
And yet, wages in the South West lag behind the rest of the country with average weekly pay at £410 compared to £442 for England. Regional statistics, however, mask massive differences, from Torbay at £303 to Swindon at £490.
Concentrations of urban, rural and coastal deprivation contribute to a widening opportunity gap. According to the most recent social mobility index, the South West region has only one constituency – South West Devon – among the highest-ranked 20% of all constituencies.
The most economically productive areas within the region are Bristol, the M4 corridor and south-east Dorset, which are the areas with the best links to London. Bristol alone accounts for 25% of the region’s GDP, with Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire accounting for a further 25%.