By Emanuela Barbiroglio

Thriving tech sends Milton Keynes to top of UK growth table

Milton Keynes has overtaken Cambridge as the UK’s fastest-growing town or city economy, according to Irwin Mitchell and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr).

The UK Powerhouse report shows Milton Keynes produced gross value added (GVA) growth of 2.6% in the year to the end of June. The town also tops the table for job creation as employment levels grew by 1.4% over the year.

Cebr senior economist Kay Daniel Neufeld says Milton Keynes benefits from a thriving technology sector and good connectivity.

“Milton Keynes benefits from a fruitful coexistence of government and private sector activity, focused mainly on research, technology and IT services,” he says.

“This is in part due to its ideal position between the university towns of Cambridge and Oxford. It is also close to the UK’s two biggest cities, London and Birmingham.”

Manufacturing weakness

At the opposite end of the table, Middlesbrough ranks as the slowest-growing town or city of the 45 studied, with GVA growth of 1.1% and employment growth of 0.3%.

No city in the north of England or the Midlands appears in the top 10, reflecting weakness in parts of the manufacturing sector.

In Birmingham, where the car industry is a major employer, annual GVA growth slowed from 2.1% in Q1 to 1.6% in Q2 as car sales dropped markedly.

London’s position in the ranking has also slipped. Having ranked inside the top 10 for both GVA growth and employment growth at the start of the year, it now ranks 10th for GVA growth and 18th for employment growth.

Neufeld says employment growth in the capital has been hit because of a reluctance to hire new staff among companies in the financial sector and a slowdown in immigration.

“The latest immigration figures suggest that the stream of people from overseas coming to London has decreased, further weighing on employment growth,” he says.