Winchester is set to see its economy grow faster than Hampshire’s other cities over the coming years, a report suggests.
The city has seen above-average growth of 2.9 per cent in the past three years, with growth of 2.3 per cent expected from 2016-19, according to the Regional Economic Forecast produced by professional services firm EY.
Southampton, which saw growth in gross value added (GVA) of 0.7 per cent from 2016-19, is expected to experience growth of 1.4 per cent from 2020-23, the report says.
In Portsmouth, which saw 1.3 per cent growth from 2016-19, the figure is set to be 1.7 per cent.
Across the whole south coast, growth was 0.8 per cent from 2016-19 and is predicted to each 1.5 per cent from 2020-23, which is below average for the largest cities in England but in line with predicted growth for towns.
Dave Hales, office managing Partner at EY in Southampton, said: “Throughout the report there is a strong consensus that regional disparities need be addressed. However, the figures for the south coast, show that there are some very strong areas where above average GVA growth has been achieved and is predicted.
“Some of our larger cities, notably Southampton and Portsmouth are predicted to see lower levels of GVA growth over the next three years. This reflects, that beyond a north-south disparity, there is a macro-economic disparity in our region. If we are to achieve consistent and widespread growth, our regional policy makers and businesses need to work together to address this situation.
“The south coast is a major global trade gateway. Post-Brexit we have an opportunity to focus our attention on the creation of more freeports, helping to boost investment in port areas and regenerating coastal communities.”
He said the idea of “freeports” – areas where goods can be imported without duties if they are exported again straight away – could support work to “level up” the economy in England. The government recently chose Southampton for the launch of a 10-week consultation on the idea.
Last autumn, another report – by Irwin Mitchell and the Centre for Economic and Business Research – predicted Southampton’s economy would grow by 18.5 per cent over the next decade and Portsmouth’s by 16.7 per cent.
The EY report suggests job growth will be weak because of the likelihood of friction in customs arrangements when Britain’s departure from the EU takes full effect next year.
Employment is expected to grow on average by 1.1 per cent a year in Southampton, 0.9 per cent in Portsmouth and 0.7 per cent in Winchester.
Debbie O’Hanlon, EY managing partner for UK regions, said: “The geographic imbalances in the UK are long-standing and it’s clear that there is no silver bullet or easy solution. This will take concerted and integrated policy thinking by government, as well as business, academia, and other stakeholders. Collaboration is vital, and we must all be committed to supporting attempts to maximise the opportunities and performance in all parts of the country.”
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