Bedford is predicated to have 1.5% GVA (gross value added) growth over the next three years, according to the annual economic forecast by EY, with the highest growth in the arts and entertainment sector.
The report compares regional growth around the country, and Bedford is pitched marginally below both the regional average and the UK (1.6%).
According to the findings of the Annual UK Regional Economic Forecast top growth employment sectors in Bedford between 2020-2023 are forecast to be arts, entertainment & recreation (2%), human, health & social activities (1.4%) and information & communication (1.2%).
“Bedford has a thriving, albeit sometimes hidden, creative and cultural scene that contributes to making the town a great place to live,” said Elaine Midgely, CEO of Bedford Creative Arts.
“Each year we work with hundreds of creatives and work hard to help develop a thriving cultural economy for Bedford including developing producers, commissioning artists and running CPD programmes.
“I’m sure, with the growth of the Oxford to Cambridge arc, more people will want to live in Bedford and I expect that rate of growth in those services that create a sense of identity in a place to continue and rise.
“Art & culture is a way of defining Bedford and can be woven into the very fabric of every regeneration initiative and employment programme.”
Sectors that are forecast to have the greatest GVA growth during the same period are information & communication (2.4%), professional, scientific & technical activities (2.2%) and human health & social activities (2.2%.).
The report forecasts that employment in Bedford will grow by 0.8% in 2020 and at an average rate of 0.6% per year between 2020-2023.
The East of England joins the South East and London as the strongest performing regions over the next four years, with predicted (Gross Value Added) GVA growth of 1.8% per annum overall.
The UK’s fastest growing cities between 2020 to 2023 are forecast to be Manchester 2.2%, Nottingham 2.1%, Bristol 2% and Cambridge 2%, greater than that of both Luton and Milton Keynes.
Anup Sodhi, office managing partner at EY in Luton, said, “The report warns that, if there are more opportunities in core cities such as London, Manchester and Birmingham, there may be a temptation for some people to either move or commute to pursue these opportunities. This may in turn risk further weakening the economies of towns.
“The expected development of the labour market over the next three years is likely to be another source of challenge for policy-makers seeking more balance in geographic activity levels.
“The report forecasts that employment in Bedford will grow by 0.8% in 2020 and at an average rate of 0.6% per year between 2020-2023.”
Expected regional wage growth to 2023 does offer some positive support for the Government’s ambitions though. EY’s report suggests that there will be improved wage growth throughout England, with all regions seeing faster growth than over the previous three years.
Debbie O’Hanlon, EY Managing Partner, UK Regions, comments: “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.”