Belfast Telegraph

Belfast emerges as one of the top performing business regions in UK

BY CLARE WEIR

Belfast is one of the top performing business areas in the UK according to new research.

The city came fifth in the UK for its level of Gross Value Added per head – the measure of the value of goods and services produced in an area, industry or sector of an economy.

The Office of National Statistics collects data on Gross Value Added which measures the wealth created in any given area after accounting for taxes and subsidies and at that level is equivalent to Gross Domestic Product, which celebrated 80 years in existence last week.

Five of the top 10 GVA regions, drawn from within England, Wales and Northern Ireland, are in the south east plus London and only one, Warrington, is in the north of England.

PriceWaterhouseCooper said that the very good performance of Northern Ireland partly reflects growing clusters of high productivity industries.

The figure may also be boosted by commuters who come into the sub-region to work but who live elsewhere.

Dr Esmond Birnie, PwC's chief economist in Northern Ireland, added that other parts of Northern Ireland have levels of GVA per head less than 60% of the UK average. He said that GDP is a complex measure and not without its critics.

"GDP doesn't measure everything in the economy, so 'valuable' things – like greater leisure time – aren't included in GDP because they are not bought or sold, while the cost of dealing with 'bad' things, like more crime or pollution, boosts GDP because they have to be paid for," he said

"That means GDP is not a subjective measure of happiness or wellbeing and, since the 1930s many commentators – including PwC – have attempted to supplement GDP with measures that put a value on of quality of life.

"Nevertheless, after 80 years GDP is a tried and trusted measure.

"We know what it measures and it does allow consistent comparisons over time and at a single point in time between various countries or regions."

FACTFILE: THE UK'S TOP 10

The top 10 regions (the 10 regions with the highest levels of GVA per head) and their relationship to the UK average (UK=100) are as follows:

(2012)

1: Inner London West 597.0

2: Berkshire 164.3

3: Inner London East 163.7

4: Milton Keynes 161.0

5: Belfast 153.7

6: Surrey 134.4

7: Swindon 127.7

8: Nottingham 125.6

9: Bath, NE Somerset, N

Somerset & S Gloucestershire

125.5

10: Warrington 121.8

Belfast Telegraph

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