NI to have lowest economic growth in UK next year, report suggests

Northern Ireland will have the lowest economic growth in the UK next year, a report suggested.

Slowing consumer spending and employment prospects are expected to hit the local economy, according to consultants PwC.

Growth this year will be rock bottom at 1% while it is predicted to edge up only marginally to 1.1% next year.

PwC regional chairman Paul Terrington said: "Between 1998 and 2007, Northern Ireland was the second fastest-growing region after London, but suffered the greatest reversal in the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis."

Since then London is the only region to have increased its overall share of gross value added.

Mr Terrington added: "The analysis of ONS (Office for National Statistics) data suggest that there is a positive relationship between relative regional GVA growth rates and education and skills, business formation rates and employment in professional and technical services.

"Regions reliant on public sector employment have grown more slowly, while employment alone is not a proxy for productivity or regional prosperity."

ONS data shows that Northern Ireland's previously improving employment rate fell by about 1.2% in the year to December 2017 - the largest fall among the 12 UK regions.

Fastest growing next year are expected to be the south east of England at 1.7% and London, the East Midlands and South West at 1.6%.