Yorkshire and the Humber has the lowest level of income inequality in England, with the top 20 per cent of earners bringing in £390 more a week than the bottom fifth of earners, according to the Institute for Public Policy Research North.
The North East has the second smallest gap between the pay of the rich and the poor, with the best paid earning around £392 a week more than those on the lowest incomes.
But at the other end of the scale, the richest fifth of people in London earn an average of £686 a week more than those on the bottom fifth of earrings, while in the South East and the East there are pay gaps of £508 and £450 a week respectively.
However, the research found that economic growth in the North before the recession had led to increasing pay inequality in the region, with the incomes of the richest fifth of people growing at around twice the rate of the poorest 20 per cent.
Ed Cox, director of IPPR North, said: “Currently, it is fairer up North, with income and pay inequality lower than the UK average, particularly when compared to London and the South East.
“But over the past decade of economic growth before recession hit, inequality increased in the North.”
The report warns that the income gap is potentially damaging for all members of society, as its research indicates cities where workers are most unequal appear to have less community cohe-sion.
It found that Leeds was the most divided, with rich people and poor people concentrated in different areas, followed by Tees Valley and Manchester.