Brexit contingency planning has seen Northern firms stockpile at the largest rate seen in 20 years, leading to the Northern Powerhouse region enjoying output growth at a higher rate than anywhere else in the UK.
Efforts to avoid disruption to supply chains has led businesses to record a large boost in manufacturing output during April, figures from NatWest show.
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The NatWest Northern Powerhouse Business Activity Index Job report shows that job creation in the North has also outpaced the rest of the country, with 42,000 more people in work today than one year ago.
And while the report voiced concerns that the rise in output will stall once there is a rowing back on Brexit stockpiling, Sebastian Burnside, NatWest’s chief economist, told The Yorkshire Post that outlook amongst region’s manufacturers remained broadly positive.
He also said that the rate of business start-ups was on the ascendancy in the North and that subdued inflation rates was easing the ground for established firms.
“There is a strong climate of stockpiling but there is more substance to this picture that risks being lost. Despite the day-by-day drama we can take real comfort from the fact that this growth has been relatively durable.
“The performance of the Northern Powerhouse has for the last six months been stronger than the UK average. Manufacturing is doing pretty well and having a disproportionate impact on the Northern Powerhouse as evidenced in Yorkshire in particular.”
Mr Burnside added that Yorkshire firms were reporting a growth in new business and export orders and that this was in turn leading to more employment in the labour market.
There is a temptation to apply the Brexit effect to everything,” he said.
“For suppliers it has made life difficult but it has not made it impossible and you can still do business successfully with international markets.
“I think there is a good lesson being shown here for other regions as we continue to move through this period.”
Richard Topliss, chairman of the NatWest North Board, said: “With business confidence strong, growth in the workforce, rising manufacturing output and improving order books, the creative talent, resourcefulness and determination of Northern Powerhouse businesses has defied gloomy predictions and turned in remarkable results so far in 2019.”
Lord O’Neill, vice chair of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said that in the context of the last five years, the data showed the North’s economy to be outperforming that of London’s.
The former Treasury minister cited ABP’s investments in Hull and Immingham, which have seen shipments originally intended for Dover moved to the north, as well as Sirius Minerals’ investment in its fertiliser mine on the Yorkshire coast, as factors which that will transform the local labour market and add a significant sum to the UK’s export figures.