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Bristol is performing strongly economically says 2014 Centre for Cities report

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Written by:   | Posted 27-January-2014 11:10

Bristol leading the way as one of the strongest performing cities outside London, a report published today reveals.

The Centre for Cities report assesses cities across a range of economic indicators and Bristol performs consistently well.

But surprisingly the city was rated among the worst on jobs - with figures showing 11,600 jobs were actually lost in the private sector.

City leaders take issue with that number, saying it is out date and the jobless tally has fallen.

Mayor George Ferguson said: “I have great respect for Centres for Cities and very much agree with their view that the English cities need more in the way of devolved powers and control over funding to ensure we make the most of our local strengths.

“Bristol is currently the only major city in England outside the South East to make a positive contribution to the UK economy.

“The reported job losses up to 2012, whether accurate or not, only serves to stimulate my determination to create and attract more business in the Bristol city region and further strengthen our position as leader in a variety of sectors.

“We are currently performing well and the future is bright for the private sector, not least with the gathering pace within the Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone which is attracting national and international attention.”

James Durie, executive director of the Bristol Chamber of Commerce added: “A lot has changed since 2011 when the jobs data used by Centre for Cities was gathered, and the findings don’t quite match the picture we have of the Bristol region.

“There’s no doubt it has been a challenging time for businesses all over the country, but we have weathered the storm well and don’t recognise the reported scale of job losses. 

“What we do recognise is the strong overall economic performance of the city, which is one of the country’s best.”

Leaders of the city, which the report defines to include the northern fringe of Bristol which is within South Gloucestershire, point to the areas where Bristol stands out, including:

* An employment rate of  73 per cent, above the UK average of 71 per cent and best of  all Core Cities and London.

* A business start-ups of 44 per 10,000 population, the joint highest outside London and ahead of the UK average of 42.

* The second highest proportion of residents with high level qualifications in  39 per cent, well ahead of the 34 per cent UK average.

* The joint lowest number of residents with no formal qualifications, at eight per cent.

The upbeat report follows other positive signs of Bristol’s economic vibrancy, such as the speculative office building in the city centre, which experts have hailed as a big boost to the economy and sign of investor confidence.

Indeed Bristol has had numerous ministerial visits in recent months, as politicians seek out places where they can promote a feel good factor.

The jobs figures will be a knock to the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership, as job creation is its key goal.

The LEP is about to submit final plans for £400 million of Government over six years money to further stimulate the economy. Its argument has been that investing more here will get results.

However there is a school of thought that the city doesn't need the help its more hard-pressed rivals do because it is already doing okay. So, counter-intuitively,  the poor job numbers may not harm the LEP's case.

Its chief executive Paul Wilson said: “Devolving powers, finances and responsibilities to city regions is the best way for UK plc to realise its full potential. Our city region has a terrific investment grade and competes internationally.”

On the jobs, he added: “The figures used by the excellent Centre for Cities do not conform to the wider data set that we see.”

Alexandra Jones, chief executive of the report publishers the Centre for Cities, said Bristol should respond to the job losses but added:  “We must also look to longer term trends which show that the city is one of our strongest performing and most resilient outside of London.

“Bristol has a track record of performing well in many of the issues we know matter for economic growth – wages, new business starts, unemployment and skills to name but a few.”

Pictured: Renewed office building, such as 2 Glass Wharf pictured, is a sign of Bristol’s economic vibrancy.

THE figures, which say Bristol lost 11,600 private sector jobs in 2011/12, will be a disappointment to the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership, as job creation is its key goal.

The LEP is about to submit final plans for £400 million of Government money over six years to further stimulate the economy.

It also wants greater control of local taxes. Its argument has been that investing more here will get results.

Its chief executive Paul Wilson said: “Devolving powers, finances and responsibilities to city regions is the best way for UK plc to realise its full potential. Our city region has a terrific investment grade and competes internationally.”

On the jobs, he added: “The figures used by the excellent Centre for Cities do not conform to the wider data set that we see.”

There is a school of thought that the city doesn’t need the help in relation to other more hard-pressed areas as it’s already doing OK. So the poor job numbers may not actually harm the LEP’s case.

 

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