The R rate has been varying and fluctuating in different parts of the country for the last few weeks. The overall number is an average. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/the-r-number-in-the-uk Limitations of growth rates The growth rate is an average value that can vary. When case numbers are low, uncertainty increases. This could happen when only a very small proportion of people are infected, or the geographical area considered has a very small population. A smaller number of cases means that variability in the underlying data makes it difficult to estimate the growth rate; there will be a wider range given for growth rate and frequent changes in the estimates. This will happen for both R and the growth rate; however, the growth rate requires fewer assumptions about the disease when it is calculated than R. Even when the overall UK growth rate estimate is negative (below 0), some regions may have growth rate estimates that include ranges that are positive (above 0), for example from -4% to +1%; this does not necessarily mean the epidemic is increasing in that region, just that the uncertainty means it cannot be ruled out. It is also possible that an outbreak in one specific place could result in a positive (above 0) growth rate for the whole region.