Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland nearly 40% less productive than London, says CBI

By Margaret Canning

Northern Ireland's economy is almost 40% less productive than London's, according to a report by the CBI. The business lobby group said its research discovered that the northern part of the province was the least productive area, while Belfast was on top.

The organisation called for more investment in public transport and roads, claiming infrastructure was key to raising productivity levels.

It also called on the Executive to step up its efforts to encourage more local companies to export to other countries.

The CBI claimed that increasing productivity across the UK could add around £208bn to the economy over the next 10 years.

The group explained that its report, Unlocking Regional Growth, was written with boosting productivity in mind.

CBI Northern Ireland director Angela McGowan said: "Raising productivity across Northern Ireland will lead to stronger economic growth, which is vital to improving the wellbeing and prosperity of all our citizens.

"Unlocking Regional Growth could really not have come at a better time.

"This report sets out a clear roadmap of evidence-based measures that can be used to improve Northern Ireland's productivity and guide us through challenges in the future."

A CBI spokesman added: "This study reveals that the Northern Ireland economy is 37.4% less productive than the UK's most productive region, London.

"However, productivity across Northern Ireland varies too, with Belfast the most productive area, and the north of Northern Ireland the least."

Included in the report were a number of suggestions on how productivity could be improved.

These included focusing on "building the right skills and producing the best opportunities for our young people by reducing the numbers of poorly performing schools".

The study also urges improvement of transport links by moving ahead with road upgrading projects between towns, with priority given to the A5 and A6.

In Belfast, the CBI wants to see the completion of the York Street Interchange and improvement of public transport.

In last week's Autumn Statement, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a £250m funding boost for infrastructure here, which could be used to improve the roads network.

He also admitted that the UK's productivity lagged behind the USA and Germany by around 30 percentage points.

The country's productivity is also behind France and Italy.

Finance Minister Mairtin O Muilleoir is expected to announce how he will spend the £250m fund when he presents his budget to the Assembly later this month.

Belfast Telegraph