England's economy is one of the largest in in the world, with an average GDP per capita of £22,907. Usually regarded as a mixed market economy, it has adopted many free market principles in contrast to the Rhine Capitalism of Europe, yet maintains an advanced social welfare infrastructure. The official currency in England is the pound sterling, also known as the GBP. Taxation in England is quite competitive when compared to much of the rest of Europe—as of 2009 the basic rate of personal tax is 20% on taxable income up to £37,400, and 40% on any additional earnings above that amount. The economy of England is the largest part of the UK's economy, which has the 18th highest GDP PPP per capita in the world. England is a leader in the chemical and pharmaceutical sectors and in key technical industries, particularly aerospace, the arms industry, and the manufacturing side of the software industry. London, home to the London Stock Exchange, the UK's main stock exchange and the largest in Europe, is England's financial centre—100 of Europe's 500 largest corporations are based in London. London is the largest financial centre in Europe, and as of 2009 is also the largest in the world.
The Bank of England, founded in 1694 by Scottish banker William Paterson, is the UK's central bank. Originally instituted to act as private banker to the Government of England, it carried on in this role as part of the United Kingdom—since 1946 it has been a state-owned institution. The Bank has a monopoly on the issue of banknotes in England and Wales, although not in other parts of the United Kingdom. Its Monetary Policy Committee has devolved responsibility for managing the monetary policy of the country and setting interest rates. England is highly industrialised, but since the 1970s there has been a decline in traditional heavy and manufacturing industries, and an increasing emphasis on a more service industry oriented economy.Tourism has become a significant industry, attracting millions of visitors to England each year. The export part of the economy is dominated by pharmaceuticals, automobiles—although many English marques are now foreign-owned, such as Rolls-Royce, Lotus, Jaguar and Bentley—crude oil and petroleum from the English parts of North Sea Oil along with Wytch Farm, aircraft engines and alcoholic beverages. Agriculture is intensive and highly mechanised, producing 60% of food needs with only 2% of the labour force. Two thirds of production is devoted to livestock, the other to arable crops.
The Department for Transport is the government body responsible for overseeing transport in England. There are several motorways in England, one of the most important trunk roads is the A1 Great North Road, stretching across the country from London to Newcastle. The longest motorway in England is the M6, stretching from Rugby to the North West up to the Anglo-Scottish border. There are other major roads; the M1 from London to Leeds, the M25 which encircles London, the M60 which encircles Manchester, the M4 from London to South Wales, the M62 from Liverpool to Manchester and East Yorkshire and the M5 from Birmingham to Bristol and the South West. Bus transport across the country is common, major companies include National Express, Arriva and Go-Ahead Group. The red double-decker buses in London have become a symbol of England. There is a rapid rail network in two English cities; the London Underground and the Tyne and Wear Metro, the latter in Newcastle, Gateshead and Sunderland. There are tram networks, such as; Blackpool, Manchester Metrolink, Sheffield Supertram and Midland Metro.
Rail transport in England is the oldest in the world, with the system originating there in 1825. Much of Britain's 16,116 kilometres (10,014 mi) of rail network lies in England, covering the country extensively. These lines are mostly single, double or quadruple track, though there are narrow gauge lines. There is rail transport access to France and Belgium through an undersea rail link, the Channel Tunnel which was completed in 1994. There are air transport facilities in England connected the public to numerous international locations, the largest airport is London Heathrow Airport which in terms of passenger volume in the busiest in Europe and one of busiest in the world. Other large airports include Manchester Airport, London Stansted Airport, Luton Airport and Birmingham International Airport. By sea there is ferry transport, both for internal and external trips, some of the most common links are to Ireland, the Netherlands and Belgium. Travel by waterways such as rivers, canals, docks is common with around 7,100 km (4,400 mi) of navigable waterways in England, half of which is owned by British Waterways. The Thames is the major waterway in England, with imports and exports focused at the Port of Tilbury, one of the UK's three major ports.
The National Health Service (NHS) is the publicly funded healthcare system in England responsible for providing the majority of healthcare in the country. The NHS began on 5 July 1948, putting into effect the provisions of the National Health Service Act 1946. It was based on the findings of the Beveridge Report, prepared by economist and social reformer William Beveridge. The NHS is largely funded from general taxation including National Insurance payments, it provides most services at no additional cost though there are extra charges associated with eye tests, dental care, prescriptions and aspects of personal care. The government department responsible for the NHS is the Department of Health, headed by the Secretary of State for Health, who sits in the British Cabinet. Most of the expenditure of the Department of Health is spent on the NHS—£98.6 billion was spent in 2008-2009. In recent years the private sector has been increasingly used to provide more NHS services despite opposition by doctors and trade unions. The average life expectancy of people in England is 77.5 years for males and 81.7 years for females, the highest of the four countries of the United Kingdom.