The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published figures which show that Northern Ireland has bounced back after the lockdown period better than any other part of the UK. The recent statistics find that the output of the economy here is only 0.3% below where it was at the end of 2019, before we were hit so spectacularly by the Covid pandemic.
In contrast the nearest challenger to Northern Ireland when it comes to bounce-back-ability is London (which is probably no great surprise to anyone) but they are still 1.8% lower than before lockdown. The West Midlands are faring worse than any other region of the UK as their output is nearly 10% down on the levels they were at in 2019.
Employment Figures Are The Highest On Record
The ONS data suggests that public sector output in Northern Ireland was actually higher than it was a couple of years ago, with private sector output slightly lagging behind from this. It also shows that employment figures are very high indeed, in fact they are the highest on record, but self employment figures are not so buoyant, which is something we touched upon in one of our previous blogs.
There have been suggestions in some quarters that the reason that Northern Ireland is outperforming the rest of the UK is partly down to the Northern Ireland Protocol. The Protocol means of course that businesses here can export to the European Union without the regulatory restrictions that are placed on the rest of the businesses in the UK.
Discussions Still Ongoing On The Terms Of The Protocol
Discussions are still ongoing between the European Union and the UK, with the negotiating team led by Lord Frost, on the terms of the Protocol, and there are no guarantees that this arrangement will not yet be scrapped, so we should perhaps be cautious about how much of an advantage this is giving us at this moment in time. However there is no reason why businesses shouldn`t make the most of any benefits that accrue from the Protocol as it stands and it seems that many are doing just that. The fact that Northern Ireland has dual access to both the EU and the UK markets can be a very useful tool to ensure that more business activity flows through the country.
In summary it is excellent news that we are bouncing back faster from the pandemic than any other region and the levels of employment give real reasons for celebration, but there is still much work to do and it is hoped that the progress made so far can continue well into the future.