Should city growth give us reason to be confident?

As it’s revealed that the south has three of the UK’s fastest growing cities, Lee Peck looks at what this means for business and consumer confidence in the region.

There’s good news for the prosperity of the south of England which will hopefully translate into a sustainable and buoyant property market, more jobs and more cash in consumers’ pockets. Bristol, Portsmouth and Southampton have been named in the top 10 of fastest growing cities in the UK for 2017.

According to the latest The UK Powerhouse report, produced for law firm Irwin Mitchell by the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR), each of the southern cities will grow by 0.9% by the end of the year.

That means that by December 31, Bristol’s economy is predicted to be worth £13.7bn; Southampton’s £5.8bn and Portsmouth’s £5.2bn. The figures measure GVA (Gross Value Added) – the total of goods and services produced by the local workforce.

For the record, CEBR reports that Cambridge, Oxford and Milton Keynes will be the three fastest growing economies in 2017, although their expansion rates will also be significantly lower than they were in the three months immediately after the EU referendum vote. The economies of Swansea, Belfast and Middlesbrough are expected to expand at the slowest rate.

Commenting on the latest UK Powerhouse report, Vicky Brackett, CEO of Business Legal Services at Irwin Mitchell, said: “I’m pleased to say that many cities experienced robust growth in the three months following the referendum result but we expect the continually unfolding political events to have widespread effects upon the UK and its cities over the next 12 months.

“Challenges bring opportunities and although the economic landscape will get tougher, we believe there is huge potential to help businesses unlock the potential that the UK regions offer.”

So there you have it… And while those figures for Bristol, Portsmouth and Southampton might not mean that much as we go about our daily chores the fact is they breed confidence among business in particular. And that is the one ingredient which plays a huge part in creating prosperity.

On a personal level if we’re feeling good about things we might just make that purchase – whatever it might be: a house, a car, a new telly… Whereas if we’re feeling a bit negative and uncertain we’ll tend to be more cautious and hold back.

I’m a great believer in self-fulfilling prophecies. Confidence breeds confidence. As far as Bristol, Portsmouth and Southampton are concerned the report is very good news indeed.


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