Hull's growth set to slow as high street plight and Brexit uncertainty hit hard

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 12 Dec 2018

Hull’s economic growth is forecast to slow from 2019, as high street struggles and Brexit’s impact on the manufacturing sector could take their toll on the city.

Between 2015 and 2018, Hull’s economy grew by more than two per cent a year.

That figure is predicted to slump to as low as 1.2 per cent a year up to 2021, according to a worrying new report released by Ernst & Young.

Hull, along with fellow Yorkshire cities Leeds and Sheffield, are expected to feel the effects of a blighted high street, combined with decreased immigration impacting the manufacturing industry.

Across the region though, GVA (gross value added) is forecast to increase from 1.3 per cent to 1.5 per cent a year, as cities look set to be the hardest hit.

Read more: 'Business as usual' for Hull shipping giant Samskip despite Brexit uncertainty

Suzanne Robinson, EY’s managing partner for Yorkshire, said: “EY’s report warns that across the rest of the UK, imbalances in growth between different places within regions will continue to increase, with cities and larger towns pulling away from their smaller neighbours.

Brexit uncertainty and slowed immigration could hit the manufacturing sector in Hull

“However, the positive GVA growth forecast for Yorkshire demonstrates the diversity of our economy, with strengths in technology, professional and financial services, as well as the geographic spread of these businesses.

“This makes our overall economy much more resilient with balanced growth that is not confined to cities.

“But the pace of change in the make-up of our economy gives no room for complacency. There is still a need to reskill our labour market and focus on the huge opportunity presented by digital and technology.”

Read more: Fears there won't be enough staff to check imports at Hull docks after Brexit

Hull’s employment growth is also forecast to take a hit from 2019.

EY’s glum report expects the figure to plummet from two per cent a year, to just 0.1 per cent.

Watch: The difference between a hard Brexit and a soft Brexit

Hull’s expected GVA growth of 1.2 per cent puts it into the bottom three urban places in the north, alongside Sunderland and Teesside.

Mark Gregory, EY’s chief economist, said: “The recent slowing services sector growth has limited further increases in the geographic differences between North and South.

“While there are positive and encouraging signs in some areas, the forecast shows that rebalancing is a more significant and complex challenge – particularly at a local level.

“Radical thinking and targeted policy action will be needed if the UK is to truly see the benefits of a more balanced economy.”

Read more: Wetherspoon owner Tim Martin speaks to Grimsby punters about his vision for Brexit

While all sectors are expected to have slower employment growth over the next three years as a result of a slowing economy, expected lower EU immigration and technological change, manufacturing looks set to take the hardest hit.

The report, released on Tuesday, also revealed a slowdown in the retail sector, especially on the high street, poses significant challenges for smaller towns and communities.

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