Figures from NatWest show private sector output in the Northern Powerhouse region hit a seven-month high in April and exceeded that seen across the rest of the nation. One of the key factors has been Brexit contingency planning, with Northern firms stockpiling at the largest rate seen in 20 years to try to prepare for potential disruption to supply chains.
While Lord Jim O’Neill, the vice chair of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, claims the area has begun to outperform London, it remains to be seen whether this growth can be sustained in the long-term or whether the increase in output will stall given the nature of stockpiling means future stocks are less required.
The picture for the North does appear to be optimistic though.
Job creation outpaced the UK as a whole – with 42,000 more people in work in the region compared to 2018, and the majority of firms foresee output continuing to rise over the next 12 months.
However, given the political impasse over a way forward with Brexit, and the uncertainty as to whether October’s planned exit will be with or without a deal in place, the path ahead is an unpredictable one for business. Clarity on the future relationship with trading partners both in Europe and elsewhere is urgently needed so that adequate plans can be put in place to protect the Northern Powerhouse’s economy in all eventualities.