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Cambridge economy is UK’s fastest growing - and it will stay top in 2018

The UK Powerhouse report looks at growth across 45 cities
The UK Powerhouse report looks at growth across 45 cities

Oxford is forecast to be second in the table

Cambridge returned to the top of the growth chart in the third quarter of 2017
Cambridge returned to the top of the growth chart in the third quarter of 2017

Cambridge has the fastest growing city economy in the UK - and that will continue for the next year, a new study by law firm Irwin Mitchell suggests.

It recorded a 2.2 per cent year-on-year growth rate for the year in the third quarter of 2017, overtaking Milton Keynes in the league table.

Produced with the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), the UK Powerhouse report provides a quarterly estimate of gross value added (GVA) and job creation within 45 UK cities 12 months ahead of the Government's official figures.

Cambridge's GVA, which measures the value of goods and services produced, was £9.391billion according to the report.

Cambridge is forecast to be the fastest-growing city in the UK in 2018
Cambridge is forecast to be the fastest-growing city in the UK in 2018

Victoria Brackett, chief executive of business legal services at Irwin Mitchell, which has an office in Hills Road, Cambridge, said:"These findings are a huge boost for Cambridge and highlight how the city is benefitting from industrial parks which are leading the way in fields such as wireless technology, display technology, and mobile telecommunications.

"The city is also of course close to London which is hugely beneficial with the capital remaining a key economic hub."

Its predicted year-on-year growth rate of 2.19 per cent in 2018 is expected to be the best of any major location, with Oxford forecast to come second with a growth rate of 1.99 per cent. Oxford was sixth in the report for quarter three of 2017, with growth rate of 1.9 per cent.

Milton Keynes, which took over from Cambridge at the top of the second quarter league table in 2017, is forecast to be third in 2018.

The government's focus on the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford golden triangle and promised investment in east-west rail is designed to feed and exploit this growth.

Peterborough came 12th in the third quarter report, with annual growth of 1.7 per cent, and is expected to be 11th, with growth of 1.5 per cent, in 2018.

Cambridge's Labour MP Daniel Zeichner said:"Cambridge is a hub of innovation and cutting-edge research, and the brilliant people and organisations who work here, and have worked well in partnership with key organisations like our city council have allowed us to stay ahead when other areas have slowed.

"But nowhere is immune from change - we need central government to deliver long-term investment on infrastructure such as housing and transport in order for people to still be drawn to our city. With global uncertainties such as Brexit and an unstable national government, Cambridge's future success will depend on the extent to which government will allow Cambridge to use our resources to secure the essential investment in people and infrastructure that we need."

The latest report also examines the impact of education on city economies. Cambridge's education sector recorded the sixth highest output in the country, with a contribution of £319.4million in the fourth quarter of 2015 - with zero growth over the three years analysed. Education accounted for seven per cent of the city's overall GVA.

Oxford, with an education output of £500.3million in 2015, up four per cent over three years, was second only to London. The figures feature data from all levels of education, from pre-primary to post-graduate in public as well as private education.

Samantha Clark, senior associate, employment, at Irwin Mitchell, said:"This report highlights the size of the education sector and the sheer scale of the number of jobs that the education sector provides.

"Leaving the EU provides a great deal of uncertainty in terms of the UK's ability to attract research funding, lecturers and researchers from overseas in the future and the impact of this could be significant. With Brexit soon upon us, we need to find ways to ensure that markets are not closed to this key sector."

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