The average wage in Brighton and Hove has slipped below the national average since the start of the recession, new figures suggest. 

According to a survey by accountants UHY Hacker Young, in 2006/7 the average annual income for city taxpayers was £25,600, rising 10.5% to £28,300 in 2009/10. 

Across the UK, the rise was 11.4%, from £25,500 to £28,400 per annum, meaning the Brighton and Hove income is now £100 less rather than £100 more.

The UK average is pushed up by cities at the top of the table, including London (£39,800), St Alban's (£44,700) and Winchester (£39,700).  

The survey also showed that the average Brighton and Hove tax bill rose by £240 from £4,580 to £4,820, compared to a national rise of £330 from £4,700 to £5,030 over the same period.

Chris Kyffin-Walton, a partner at the firm's Hove office in Church Road, said that the city’s taxpayers’ position can be put down to two recent shakeups of the income tax system – the increase in the basic personal allowance and the decrease in the basic rate of tax.

He said: “With the personal allowance rising by over £1,400, and the basic rate dropping to 20% there has been a noticeable decrease in the tax burden for lower earners.”

But Julia Chanteray, president of Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce, said that although tax bills in the city may be rising less slowly than other cities, because tax is related to earnings, this isn’t necessarily a cause for celebration.

The chamber is launching a campaign for a “living wage” in the city aimed at getting firms to agree to pay employees at least £7.20 per hour.

She said: “At Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce we work for a healthy, buoyant economy in the city. We’re more interested in earnings increasing, both in the form of profits for business owners, and because healthy businesses can afford to pay higher wages – a win for everyone.”

Claire Ottewell, the chair of the city’s Tourism Alliance, said tourism and hospitality businesses couldn’t support the living wage in the economic climate.

She said: “Our sector provides employment for many thousands of the city’s residents, who in turn spend within the local economy.

“In an ideal world the living wage would be desirable, however there simply isn’t the revenue to maintain a business and increase wages to the proposed level.

"We would be concerned that any attempt to impose a living wage will create an artificial distortion of the jobs market in the region. In this area, and in others, we must remember that Brighton and Hove is not an island.”

The figures are based on an analysis of tax returns for the 2006/07 and 2009/10 tax years, the most recent available.