South Lakeland’s multi-billion pound economy is still growing, according to latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
More than £21 million has been added to the value of goods and services produced across the district.
South Lakeland’s total Gross Value Added (GVA) rose to £2.413 billion in 2017, with particular growth in manufacturing and construction. The latest figures for 2017 show that South Lakeland continues to play an important role in UK production, with £385 million of its GVA in manufacturing, a sector which supports the employment of 5,000 people.
GVA is a measure of the value of goods and services and is regarded as a key indicator of solid economic activity. With Barrow and Lancaster also increasing their GVA from the previous year, the wider Morecambe Bay economic area is the sixth best performing in the North West, and growing, with a combined GVA of £7.074 billion, a rise of £257 million.
South Lakeland District Council, Barrow Borough Council and Lancaster City Council are working in partnership to promote the Lancaster and South Cumbria Economic Region to attract more investment and employment into the Morecambe Bay area, moves which Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth Minister Jake Berry described as “exciting and positive” on a meeting to the area last year.
A business prospectus for the partnership, aimed at making a compelling case for unlocking the area’s economic potential, is currently being worked on.
Councillor Graham Vincent, SLDC’s portfolio holder for economy and assets, told a meeting of the full council that South Lakeland was playing a significant part in the growth of the economy in Cumbria and that the new figures were extremely encouraging for the Lancaster and South Cumbria Economic Region as a whole.
Cllr Vincent said: “South Lakeland and Barrow were the only Cumbrian districts to increase GVA – all of the others shrank. However, our other economic partner, Lancaster, grew considerably.
“This brings our economic partnership into being sixth biggest in the North West behind Manchester, Cheshire East, Liverpool, Cheshire West & Chester and Trafford.
“Morecambe Bay has really started to establish its economic position in the wider area, evidencing the key role it is playing in the North West and wider UK. We continue to grow collectively and individually and we are talking to ministers about Morecambe Bay.
“We really do have a position in the North West as a powerful economy. Although we need a further £0.5 billion increase in GVA to move into fifth place, it has to be an aim.”
Cllr Vincent also told the meeting that advanced manufacturing – industries which require significant technical background and process control – is one of the areas real strengths.
He said: “South Lakeland and South Cumbria both have significant advanced manufacturing companies, a number of which are leaders in their fields, and all together provide the largest advanced manufacturing base in Cumbria.”
Cllr Vincent highlighted South Lakeland businesses operating on a global level, such as James Cropper, Gilkes, Marl International, Oxley Group, Anord-Mardix, Tritech and Siemens Subsea.
“We can honestly say we are delivering in an area that is not just about tourism. It is not generally recognised what a strong area we are for advanced manufacturing,” Cllr Vincent said.