Four out of five of the UK’s top performing towns and cities are in our region

A view towards the town centre across Ipswich Waterfront

A view towards the town centre across Ipswich Waterfront - Credit: Archant

Both the present and the future are looking bright for our region, as a new report shows that East Anglia is home to three out of five of the fastest growing city economies in the UK.

Top and bottom five cities by annual GVA growth, Q1 2018

Top and bottom five cities by annual GVA growth, Q1 2018 - Credit: Archant

Cambridge topped the list, with Ipswich second and Norwich fifth nationally according to The UK Powerhouse study.

The report reveals that Ipswich had the second-highest rate recorded of GVA growth rate (a measure of the value of goods and services produced) in the UK in the first three months of this year (2.5%), while Norwich enjoyed a growth rate of 2.4%.

Although growth is expected to slow for each of the cities by the end of the year, Ipswich, Norwich and Cambridge are all expected to remain in the top seven places in the UK Powerhouse rankings.

Looking forward, the report also predicts the three locations will maintain their top 10 positions by the final quarter of 2028.

Gentlemans Walk, Norwich city centre.

Gentlemans Walk, Norwich city centre. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

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Produced by Irwin Mitchell and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), the study provides an estimate of GVA growth and job creation within 46 of the UK’s largest towns and cities.

Assessing the findings, Victoria Brackett, CEO at Irwin Mitchell’s Business Legal Services division, said: “Our latest report makes for very positive reading for cities in eastern England, with Cambridge, Norwich and Ipswich all expected to have strong long-term prospects.

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“In terms of Norwich, its technology and life science industries are supporting growth across East Anglia and the city is also a leader in terms of financial services. In order to sustain growth, businesses in the city should look at boosting productivity, particularly in terms of its pockets of low skilled workers.

“This can be done through encouraging enterprise, as when new businesses enter the market it increases competitive pressures, incentivising managers to improve output per worker.”

Norfolk Chamber of Commerce’s public affairs manager Nova Fairbank said: “Norfolk’s diverse, dynamic and innovative business community has helped contribute to the overall economic success of our region to date. With strong emerging sectors such as digital/ICT and world-leading innovations in food science and agri-tech, as well as the more traditional sectors such as professional services, insurance and manufacturing, our region clearly has the potential to increase economic growth and create more jobs going forwards.

“However to capitalise on this growth, we need to see investment in our infrastructure, both roads, rail and digital connectivity. We also need to ensure that we have the right skills for the future. Part of this will involve the business community working in partnership with the education establishments to create greater enterprise engagement for young people. We can also make the area more attractive to those outside of our region by being collaborative and promoting a more positive message that Norfolk thriving and is open for business.”

Ipswich MP Sandy Martin was pleased to see “our bright economic future” confirmed by the figures. “With our new University gaining a great reputation, the growth of IT activity and especially software design, and now the visible return to building work on the Winerack and in Princes Street, it has been obvious for months that Ipswich is moving forward,” he said. But he added - “second highest GVA growth in the UK doesn’t mean we are the richest place in the UK, or the most efficient, but it does mean that we are going in the right direction, and we’re going there faster than almost everywhere else.”

Stefan Gurney, executive director of Norwich BID, said: “Norwich has bucked the national trend of “doom and gloom”, instead continuing to grow against a slowing national economy and Brexit.

“Our diverse retail offer, financial and insurance sectors, digital/ICT, cultural tourism and new R&D national profile in life sciences continues to boost our status as a leading business city.

“At the Norwich BID summer conference, there was a call from the business community to push Norwich as a commercial destination and we are working with the Norfolk Chamber and New Anglia LEP on a national campaign to drive our reputation as energetic, collaborative and world leading business city.”

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