The State of Britain

NW economic growth in 2018 ranked fourth, the Greater Manchester South West economy the fastest growing in the region but Sefton posts one of lowest GDPs per head in the UK, Cumbria’s LEP sinks down the rankings as the economy declines by 0.7%.

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Following its first publication of quarterly GDP estimates for the regions in September, the ONS has now published its 2018 full year estimate of economic activity by UK country, region and local area using gross domestic product.

The figures showed the NW economy grew by 1.4% in 2018, down from the 2017 growth rate of 2.4%. This placed the NW fourth (2017 ranking also fourth) out of the twelve UK ‘regions.’

The UK and England growth rate in 2018 was also 1.4%. Growth in Wales was 1.3%, Scotland grew by 0.9% and the Northern Ireland economy shrank by 0.5%.

London topped the 2018 table with growth of 2.0% whilst Northern Ireland was at the bottom.

Within the region, the Greater Manchester South West economy grew the fastest at 4.9%, followed by Cheshire East at 4.5% and East Merseyside at 3.5%. Across the UK, the highest annual growth of sub national areas was in Falkirk at 10.5%.

Five areas of the region saw their GDP decline in 2018. The worst performer was the Wirral at -3.6% followed by Blackburn with Darwen at -2.9% and East Cumbria at -1.6%. In UK terms, the lowest annual growth of subnational areas was in Mid and East Antrim at -10.1%.

GDP per head growth of 4.1% to £37,067 was seen in Greater Manchester South West although Central Manchester was top at £44,781. GDP per head fell by 3.7% in the Wirral but at £17,850 Sefton posted the 5th lowest GDP per head in the UK, with Greater Manchester North East only two places better.

In terms of UK extremes, GDP per head was £395,309 in Camden and the City of London and £15,034 in Ards and North Down. These figures are a guide and are influenced by commuter flows.

In 2018, key drivers of the North West economy were mining at 11% and support services and information and communication both at 6%. Those areas that did not perform well were agriculture down by 8%, financial services down 4% and water supply and services also declined by 2%. Overall the services sector grew by 1.7% and production by 0.5% with construction declining by 0.1%.

The 2018 performance of the region’s enterprise partnerships was also highlighted by the ONS. Of the UK’s 45 development bodies, Greater Manchester LEP was ranked 13th in the UK (2017 ranking ninth) with growth of 1.7%, with Cheshire and Warrington ranked 15th and Liverpool City Region ranked 18th. The best regional performer was the Lancashire LEP at 22nd (2017 ranking 40th) with growth of 1.2%, but the Cumbria LEP slipped from 17th in 2017 to 41st in 2018 as the economy declined by 0.7%.

More data from the ONS showed unemployment in the NW fell by 10,000 to 146,000 between August and October 2019; the decrease of 0.2% took the overall rate to 4.0%. Northern Ireland had the lowest rate at 2.3% with the UK rate at 3.8%. The highest rate was 6.1% which was recorded in the North East.

The South West had the highest employment rate at 80.8% which compared with 75.7% in the NW. UK employment was estimated at 76.2%.

NW average property prices fell by 0.6% during October 2019 to £166,134, which took annual growth to 1.4%. In comparison, UK prices fell by 0.7% to £232,944, an annual growth rate of 0.7%.