Growth predicted for North West economy

By Tim Aldred

27 Feb 2023

Stephen Church Ey

The North West economy is projected to grow by 2 per cent per year between 2024 and 2026, according to analysts at EY.

The firm's latest Regional Economic Forecast has predicted Gross Value Added (GVA) growth for towns and cities across the UK, with the nationwide average sitting at 2.1 per cent.

Chorley is expected to be the best-performing town, with forecast average GVA growth of 2.4 per cent per year, with higher employment growth than the national rate for the same period, with 1.4 per cent annual average growth forecast.

Chorley’s prospects are expected to be particularly boosted by the town’s real estate activities and construction sector.

Lancaster's economic growth is predicted to be 1.9 per cent per year, with average annual employment growth rates expected to keep pace with the regional average over the same period at 1.2 per cent.

However, Blackpool and Preston are among the towns expected to experience the most significant economic challenges in the North West, with average economic growth of just 1.5 per cent each per year forecast from 2024 to 2026 – trailing both the national and regional averages.

Blackburn is also expected to have the joint-slowest employment growth in the North West from 2024 to 2026, along with Carlisle, with both forecast to see jobs rise by an average of 0.8 per cent per year over the same period. Blackburn is expected to record average annual GVA growth for 2024-2026 of 1.7 per cent.

The EY Regional Economic Forecast also says that the rising cost of living and weaker consumer spending are expected to deepen the economic divide between London and the rest of the UK.

The forecast says that UK Gross Value Added (GVA) is expected to decline 0.6 per cent over the course of 2023, with London (-0.2 per cent) the only part of the country predicted to see a smaller economic contraction than the UK overall. 

Stephen Church, EY’s North Market Leader, said: "The North is home to many of the UK’s most dynamic and innovative businesses and, while the next 12 months will be economically challenging, there are areas across the region where we can expect to see encouraging growth over the next few years. The North’s cities are set to be particularly strong performers.

"However, progress is about the whole of our region, not just our bigger cities. And while several towns and cities are expected to see better economic and employment growth than many other parts of the country, too many places are still expected to trail behind.

"In order to spread growth, not just throughout the country, but throughout regions too, it is critical that the public and private sectors work together to combine their expertise, strengths, and capabilities. The North needs both working in tandem to succeed.

“Looking ahead, the regions across the North need their own clear strategies for growth, which reflect each region’s own strengths and unique attributes. Getting the right sector mix is key, and investment in high-value sectors and skills can help build a sustainable future – not just for the North, but for the whole country too.”

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