The regions of England, formerly known as the government office regions, are the highest tier of sub-national division in England. Between 1994 and 2011, nine regions had officially devolved functions within government. While they no longer fulfill this role, they continue to be used for statistical and some administrative purposes. They define areas (constituencies) for the purposes of elections to the European Parliament. Eurostat also uses them to demarcate first level Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS) regions ("NUTS 1 regions") within the European Union. The regions generally follow the boundaries of the former standard regions, established in the 1940s for statistical purposes.
The London region has a directly elected Mayor and Assembly. Six regions have local authority leaders' boards to assist with correlating the headline policies of local authorities. The remaining two regions no longer have any administrative functions, having abolished their regional local authority leaders' boards.
In 1998, regional chambers were established in the eight regions outside London, which produced strategic plans and recommendations to local authorities. The regions also had an associated (central) Government Office with some responsibility for coordinating policy, and, from 2007, a part-time regional minister within the Government. House of Commons regional Select Committees were established in 2009. However, the chambers and select committees were abolished in May 2010, restoring these functions to the main tier of local government, with limited functions transferred to the regional local authority leaders' boards created in 2009. Regional ministers were not reappointed by the incoming Coalition Government, and the Government Offices were abolished in 2011.
From 2011, combined authorities have been introduced in some city regions, with similar responsibilities to the former regional chambers (and in some cases, replacing a regional local authority leaders' board on a smaller scale), but which also receive additional delegated functions from central government relating to transport and economic policy.
Regional development agencies were public bodies established in all nine regions in 1998 to promote economic development. They had certain delegated functions, including administering European Union regional development funds, and received funding from the central government as well. These were abolished in 2012, with statutory functions returning to local authorities and central government, however smaller scale local enterprise partnerships were voluntarily established to take on some functions relating to coordinating economic priorities and development.
|Additional status||NUTS 1 region|
|Government||Local authority leaders' board (6)|
Elected assembly (1)
|Subdivisions||Non-metropolitan county (8)|
Metropolitan county (4)
Districts of London (1)
After about 500 AD, England comprised seven Anglo-Saxon territories – Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia, Essex, Kent, Sussex and Wessex – often referred to as the heptarchy. The boundaries of some of these, which later unified as the Kingdom of England, roughly coincide with those of modern regions. During Oliver Cromwell's Protectorate in the 1650s, the rule of the Major-Generals created 10 regions in England and Wales of similar size to the modern regions.
Proposals for administrative regions within England were mooted by the British government prior to the First World War. In 1912 the Third Home Rule Bill was passing through parliament. The Bill was expected to introduce a devolved parliament for Ireland, and as a consequence calls were made for similar structures to be introduced in Great Britain or "Home Rule All Round". On 12 September the First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, gave a speech in which he proposed 10 or 12 regional parliaments for the United Kingdom. Within England, he suggested that London, Lancashire, Yorkshire, and the Midlands would make natural regions. While the creation of regional parliaments never became official policy, it was for a while widely anticipated and various schemes for dividing England devised. By the 1930s, several competing systems of regions were adopted by central government for such purposes as census of population, agriculture, electricity supply, civil defence and the regulation of road traffic. In 1946 nine "standard regions" were set up, in which central government bodies, statutory undertakings and regional bodies were expected to cooperate. However, these had declined in importance by the late 1950s.
Creation of some form of provinces or regions for England was an intermittent theme of post-Second World War British governments. The Redcliffe-Maud Report proposed the creation of eight provinces in England, which would see power devolved from central government. Edward Heath's administration in the 1970s did not create a regional structure in the Local Government Act 1972, waiting for the Royal Commission on the Constitution, after which government efforts were concentrated on a constitutional settlement in Scotland and Wales for the rest of the decade. In England, the majority of the Commission "suggested regional coordinating and advisory councils for England, consisting largely of indirectly elected representatives of local authorities and operating along the lines of the Welsh advisory council". One-fifth of the advisory councils would be nominees from central government. The boundaries suggested were the "eight now [in 1973] existing for economic planning purposes, modified to make boundaries to conform with the new county structure". A minority report by Lord Crowther-Hunt and Alan T. Peacock suggested instead seven regional assemblies and governments within Great Britain (five within England), which would take over substantial amounts of the central government.
Some elements of regional development and economic planning began to be established in England from the mid-1960s onwards. In most of the standard regions, Economic Planning Councils and Boards were set up, comprising appointed members from local authorities, business, trade unions and universities, and in the early 1970s these produced a number of regional and sub-regional planning studies. These institutions continued to operate until they were abolished by the incoming Conservative government in 1979. However, by the mid-1980s local authorities in most regions had jointly established standing conferences to consider regional planning issues. Regional initiatives were bolstered by the 1986 Government Green Paper and 1989 White Paper on The Future of Development Plans, which proposed the introduction of strong regional guidance within the planning system, and by the Government's issuing of Strategic Guidance at a regional level, from 1986 onwards.
In April 1994, the John Major ministry created a set of ten Government Office Regions for England. Prior to 1994, although various central government departments had different regional offices, the regions they used tended to be different and ad hoc. The stated purpose was as a way of co-ordinating the various regional offices more effectively: they initially involved the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Employment, Department of Transport and the Department for the Environment. Following the Labour Party's victory in the 1997 general election, the government created regional development agencies. Around a decade later the Labour administration also founded the Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnerships (RIEPs) with £185m of devolved funding to enhance councils' capacity to improve and take the lead in their own improvement.
The Maastricht Treaty encouraged the creation of regional boundaries for selection of members for the Committee of the Regions of the European Union: Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland had each constituted a region, but England represents such a large proportion of the population of the United Kingdom that further division was thought necessary. The English regions, which initially numbered ten, also replaced the Standard Statistical Regions. Merseyside originally constituted a region in itself, but in 1998 it was merged into the North West England region, creating the nine present-day regions. Since 1999, the nine regions have also been used as England's European Parliament constituencies and as statistical NUTS level 1 regions. Since 1 July 2006, there have also been ten NHS Strategic Health Authorities, each of which corresponds to a region, except for South East England, which is divided into western and eastern parts.
In 1998, regional chambers were created in the eight English regions outside London under the provisions of the Regional Development Agencies Act 1998. The powers of the assemblies were limited, and members were appointed, largely by local authorities, rather than being directly elected. The functions of the English regions were essentially devolved to them from Government departments or were taken over from pre-existing regional bodies, such as regional planning conferences and regional employers' organisations. Each assembly also made proposals for the UK members of the Committee of the Regions, with members drawn from the elected councillors of the local authorities in the region. The final nominations were made by central government. Although they were publicly funded, one of the Regional Assemblies claimed not to be a public authority and therefore not subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
As power was to be devolved to Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales without a counterweight in England, a series of referendums were planned to establish elected regional assemblies in some of the regions. The first was held in London in 1998 and was passed. The London Assembly and Mayor of London of the Greater London Authority were created in 2000. A referendum was held in North East England on 4 November 2004, but the proposal for an elected assembly was rejected. Plans to hold further referendums in other regions were first postponed and then cancelled. A campaign for the establishment of a Cornish assembly, including a petition to the UK government in 2001, was largely ignored and no referendum was held.
In 2007, a Treasury Review for new Prime Minister Gordon Brown recommended that greater powers should be given to local authorities and that the Regional Chambers should be phased out of existence by 2010. The same year, nine Regional Ministers were appointed by the incoming Gordon Brown government. Their primary goal was stated as being to improve communication between central government and the regions of England. The assemblies were effectively replaced by smaller local authority leaders' boards between 2008 and 2010, and formally abolished on 31 March 2010, as part of a "Sub-National Review of Economic Development and Regeneration". Most of their functions transferred to the relevant regional development agency and to local authority leaders' boards.
In June 2010, the incoming Coalition Government announced its intentions to abolish regional strategies and return spatial planning powers to local government. These plans include the withdrawal of funding to the existing eight Local Authority Leaders' Boards, with their statutory functions also being assumed by local councils. The boards in most cases continue to exist as voluntary associations of council leaders, funded by the local authorities themselves. No appointments as Regional Ministers were made by the incoming UK government in 2010.
These changes did not affect the directly elected London Assembly, which was established by separate legislation as part of the Greater London Authority. In 2011, Greater London remains administered by the Greater London Authority, which consists of an elected London Assembly and a separately elected Mayor of London.
Following the abolition of the Government Offices in 2011, it was announced that the former Government Office Regions (GOR) would henceforth be known, for the purposes of statistical analysis, simply as Regions.
|Name||Population||10-year % increase
(to 2011 Census)
|Median gross annual
earnings (£) 2014
|% of population claiming
|% as at August 2001||Largest city|
||8,634,750||7.9%||19,095||452.20||28,629||3.0%||5.4%||Brighton and Hove|
|East of England||5,846,965||8.5%||19,120||305.80||26,830||3.5%||6.2%||Norwich|
|Yorkshire and the Humber||5,283,733||6.4%||15,420||342.65||24,999||5.2%||9.3%||Leeds|
||2,596,886||3.2%||8,592||302.24||24,876||6.1%||11.6%||Newcastle upon Tyne|
The Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS) is a geocode standard for referencing the subdivisions of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for statistical purposes. The NUTS code for the UK is UK and there are 12 first level regions within the state. Within the UK, there are 9 such regions in England, together with Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The standard is developed and regulated by the European Union (EU). The NUTS standard is instrumental in delivering the EU's Structural Funds. A hierarchy of three levels is established by Eurostat. The sub-structure corresponds to administrative divisions within the country. Formerly, the further NUTS divisions (IV and V) existed; these have now been replaced by Local administrative unit (LAU-1 and LAU-2 respectively).
In its later years the Labour government adopted the concept of city regions, regions consisting of a metropolitan area and its hinterland or Travel to Work Areas. Two such areas were considered for giving statutory powers: Greater Manchester City Region and Leeds City Region. However, this was later discontinued as a result of the May 2010 general election, although the Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition government did agree to the creation of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and West Yorkshire Combined Authority in 2011, with all other proposals and the regional development agencies being subsumed into the local enterprise partnerships.
Local government in England does not follow a uniform structure. Therefore, each region is divided into a range of further subdivisions. London is divided into London boroughs and one county while the other regions are divided into metropolitan counties, shire counties and unitary authorities. Counties are further divided into districts and some areas are also parished. Regions are also divided into sub-regions, which usually group socio-economically linked local authorities together. However, the sub-regions have no official status and are little used other than for strategic planning purposes.
The East of England is one of nine official regions of England at the first level of NUTS for statistical purposes. It was created in 1994 and was adopted for statistics from 1999. It includes the ceremonial counties of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk. Essex has the highest population in the region.
Its population at the 2011 census was 5,847,000.Bedford, Luton, Basildon, Peterborough, Southend-on-Sea, Norwich, Ipswich, Colchester, Chelmsford and Cambridge are the region's most populous towns. The southern part of the region lies in the London commuter belt.Greater London
Greater London is a ceremonial county of England that is located within the London region. This region forms the administrative boundaries of London and is organised into 33 local government districts—the 32 London boroughs and the City of London, which is located within the region but is separate from the county. The Greater London Authority, based in Southwark, is responsible for strategic local government across the region and consists of the Mayor of London and the London Assembly. The City of London Corporation is responsible for the local government of only the City of London.
Administratively, Greater London was first established as a sui generis council area under the Greater London Council between 1963 and 1986. The county of Greater London was created on 1 April 1965 through the London Government Act 1963. The area was re-established as a region in 1994. The Greater London Authority was formed in 2000.The region covers 1,572 km2 (607 sq mi) and had a population of 8,174,000 at the 2011 census. The Greater London Built-up Area is used in some national statistics and is a measure of the continuous urban area and includes areas outside the administrative region.Humber
The Humber is a large tidal estuary on the east coast of Northern England. It is formed at Trent Falls, Faxfleet, by the confluence of the tidal rivers Ouse and Trent. From there to the North Sea, it forms part of the boundary between the East Riding of Yorkshire on the north bank and North Lincolnshire on the south bank. Although the Humber is an estuary from the point at which it is formed, many maps show it as the River Humber.Below Trent Falls, the Humber passes the junction with the Market Weighton Canal on the north shore, the confluence of the River Ancholme on the south shore; between North Ferriby and South Ferriby and under the Humber Bridge; between Barton-upon-Humber on the south bank and Kingston upon Hull on the north bank (where the River Hull joins), then meets the North Sea between Cleethorpes on the Lincolnshire side and the long and thin headland of Spurn Head to the north.
Ports on the Humber include the Port of Hull, Port of Grimsby, Port of Immingham, as well as lesser ports at New Holland and North Killingholme Haven. The estuary is navigable for the largest of deep-sea vessels. Inland connections for smaller craft are extensive but handle only a quarter of the goods traffic handled in the Thames.Liverpool Bay
Liverpool Bay is a bay of the Irish Sea between northeast Wales, Cheshire, Lancashire and Merseyside to the east of the Irish Sea. The bay is a classic example of a region of freshwater influence. Liverpool Bay has historically suffered from reduced oxygen content from prior massive discharges of sewage sludge, according to C.Michael Hogan.The rivers Alt, Clwyd, Dee, Ribble and Mersey drain into the bay. The bay is littered with wrecks and has many dive sites. The bay also contains several oil and gas fields including the Douglas Complex, with a combined daily capacity (January 2008) of 60,000 barrels. The UK's first major offshore wind farm, North Hoyle, is located in the south of the bay, which is a busy shipping route to the Mersey Docks.
The land area around the bay is occasionally referred to as the "Liverpool Bay Area". Though the term is seen by some as a possible official alternative to Merseyside, it is more often used to describe a much wider area which may include the West Lancashire towns of Ormskirk and Skelmersdale to the north, St Helens and Warrington to the east and Chester plus North Wales to the south. In this sense, it is often promoted by local thinkers and urbanists to encourage regional co-operation in both economic and cultural terms. It is not recognised by the British Government as a strategic economic sub-region, however. Despite having its advocates, the term is still not particularly common in the area.
The English portion of Liverpool Bay is one of the 120 natural areas into which England is divided by Natural England for conservation purposes.Lyme Bay
Lyme Bay is an area of the English Channel situated in the southwest of England between Start Bay in the west and Portland in the east. The counties of Devon and Dorset front onto the bay.M4 corridor
The M4 corridor is an area in the United Kingdom adjacent to the M4 motorway, which runs from London to South Wales. It is a major high-technology hub. Important cities and towns linked by the M4 include (from east to west) London, Slough, Bracknell, Maidenhead, Reading, Newbury, Swindon, Bath, Bristol, Newport, Cardiff, and Swansea. The area is also served by the Great Western Main Line, including the South Wales Main Line, and London Heathrow Airport. Technology companies with major operations located in the area include Amazon, Citrix Systems, Dell, Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei, Lexmark, LG, Microsoft, Novell, Nvidia, O2, Panasonic, SAP, and Symantec.North Downs
The North Downs are a ridge of chalk hills in south east England that stretch from Farnham in Surrey to the White Cliffs of Dover in Kent. Westerham Heights, at the northern edge of the North Downs, near Bromley, South London, is the highest point in London at an elevation of 245 m (804 ft). The North Downs lie within two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), the Surrey Hills and the Kent Downs. The North Downs Way National Trail runs along the North Downs from Farnham to Dover.North Norfolk
North Norfolk is a local government district in Norfolk, England. Its council is based in Cromer. The population at the 2011 Census was 101,149.Severn Estuary
The Severn Estuary (Welsh: Môr Hafren) is the estuary of the River Severn, the longest river in Great Britain. It is the confluence of four major rivers, being the Severn, Wye, Usk and Avon, and other smaller rivers. Its high tidal range, approximately 50 feet (15 m), means that it has been at the centre of discussions in the UK regarding renewable energy.South Coast Plain
The South Coast Plain is a natural region in England running along the central south coast in the counties of East and West Sussex and Hampshire.
It has been designated as National Character Area No. 126 by Natural England. The NCA has a total area of 52,245 hectares and forms a coastal strip, 2 to 16 kilometres wide, running from the area of Hamble-le-Rice in Hampshire in the west across the entire length of West Sussex to Brighton in East Sussex to the east.Its major settlements include the cities of Brighton and Hove, Chichester and Portsmouth, the market town of Fareham, the coastal town of Gosport and the seaside resorts of Bognor Regis, Littlehampton and Worthing. It is bordered by the New Forest across Southampton Water to the west, the South Hampshire Lowlands to the northwest, the South Downs to the north and east, and the Isle of Wight across the Solent to the southwest.Southern England
Southern England, or the South of England, also known as the South, refers roughly to the southern counties of England. The extent of this area can take a number of different interpretations depending on the context, including geographical, cultural, political and economic.
Geographically, the extent of the south of England may vary from the southern quarter (below the M4/Northern M25), via one-third of the country (excluding central England), to the southern half, bordering northern England. The South is often considered a principal cultural area of England, along with the Midlands and Northern England. Many consider the area to have a distinct identity from the rest of England, however without universal agreement on what cultural, political, and economic characteristics of the South are.
For statistical purposes, Southern England is divided into four regions: South West England, South East England, London, and the East of England. Combined, these have a total area of 62,042 square kilometres (23,955 sq mi), and a population of 28 million.Suffolk Coast and Heaths
The Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Suffolk, England.
The AONB covers ancient woodland, commercial forestry, the estuaries of the Alde, Blyth, Deben, Orwell and Stour rivers, farmland, salt marsh, heathland, mudflats, reed beds, small towns and villages, shingle beaches and low eroding cliffs along 60 miles of coastline.Features include the coastal towns of Aldeburgh and Southwold. Bawdsey, Covehithe, Dunwich, Minsmere, Orford, Orford Ness, Sizewell, Thorpeness, Walberswick and the RSPB Minsmere Reserve. There are three National Nature Reserves in the area and many Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Three long distance footpaths pass through the AONB: the Suffolk Coast Path, the Sandlings Walk and the Stour and Orwell Walk.Thames Valley
The Thames Valley is an informally-defined sub-region of South East England, centred on the River Thames west of London, with Oxford as a major centre. Its boundaries vary with context. The area is a major tourist destination and economic hub, includes part of the M4 corridor, and is sometimes referred to as England's Silicon Valley due to the concentration of high-technology companies. The area east of Reading is defined by Natural England as the Thames Valley National Character Area, while Thames Valley Police cover the counties of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.The Midlands
The Midlands is an area of central England that borders the South East, South West, North West, East of England and Yorkshire and the Humber. Its largest city is Birmingham. Broadly corresponding to the early medieval Kingdom of Mercia, it was important in the Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries. The Midlands are split between the East Midlands and West Midlands.The Wash
The Wash is a largely rectangular bay and estuary at the north-west corner of East Anglia on the East coast of England, where Norfolk meets Lincolnshire, and both border the North Sea. One of the broadest estuaries in the United Kingdom, it is fed by the rivers Witham, Welland, Nene and Great Ouse. It is a 62,046-hectare (153,320-acre) biological Site of Special Scientific Interest. It is also a Nature Conservation Review site, Grade I, a National Nature Reserve, a Ramsar site, a Special Area of Conservation and a Special Protection Area. It is in the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and part of it is the Snettisham Royal Society for the Protection of Birds nature reserve.Vale of York
The Vale of York is an area of flat land in the northeast of England. The vale is a major agricultural area and serves as the main north-south transport corridor for Northern England.
The Vale of York is often supposed to stretch from the River Tees in the north to the Humber Estuary in the south. More properly it is just the central part of this area which is truly the Vale of York, with the Vale of Mowbray to its north and the Humberhead Levels to its south. It is bounded by the Howardian Hills and Yorkshire Wolds to the east and the Pennines to the west. The low-lying ridge of the Escrick moraine marks its southern boundary. York lies in the middle of the area.West Midlands (region)
The West Midlands is one of nine official regions of England at the first level of NUTS for statistical purposes. It covers the western half of the area traditionally known as the Midlands. It contains Birmingham and the larger West Midlands conurbation, which includes the city of Wolverhampton and large towns of Dudley, Solihull, Walsall and West Bromwich. The City of Coventry is also located within the West Midlands county, but is separated from the conurbation to the west by several miles of green belt. The Region also contains 6 shire counties which stretch from the Welsh Border to the East Midlands.
The region is geographically diverse, from the urban central areas of the conurbation to the rural western counties of Shropshire and Herefordshire which border Wales. The longest river in the UK, the River Severn, traverses the region southeastwards, flowing through the county towns of Shrewsbury and Worcester, and the Ironbridge Gorge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Staffordshire is home to the industrialised Potteries conurbation, including the city of Stoke-on-Trent, and the Staffordshire Moorlands area, which borders the southeastern Peak District National Park near Leek. The region also encompasses five Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Wye Valley, Shropshire Hills, Cannock Chase, Malvern Hills, and parts of the Cotswolds. Warwickshire is home to the towns of Stratford upon Avon, birthplace of writer William Shakespeare, Rugby, the birthplace of Rugby football and Nuneaton, birthplace to author George Eliot.West of England
The West of England is a loose and locationally unspecific term sometimes given to the area surrounding the city and county of Bristol, England, and also sometimes applied more widely and in other parts of South West England.Yorkshire Dales
The Yorkshire Dales is an upland area of the Pennines in Northern England in the historic county of Yorkshire, most of it in the Yorkshire Dales National Park created in 1954.The Dales comprises river valleys and the hills, rising from the Vale of York westwards to the hilltops of the Pennine watershed. In Ribblesdale, Dentdale and Garsdale, the area extends westwards across the watershed, but most of the valleys drain eastwards to the Vale of York, into the Ouse and the Humber. The extensive limestone cave systems are a major area for caving in the UK and numerous walking trails run through the hills and dales.