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Aberdeen City Region urged to be “cautiously optimistic” after new report shows economic stability after “challenging few years”

Tuesday November 5th 2019 at 10:30 AM


Aberdeen’s economy is showing resilience in the face of difficult global trading conditions and ongoing political uncertainty, after new findings revealed it’s forecast to grow in the coming years. 

The second annual report by the Economic Policy Panel urged greater collaboration between businesses, governments and universities.

An independent report into the challenges and opportunities ahead was launched at the State of the Cities Conference at the P&J Live today.  

Published by the Aberdeen Economic Policy Panel, which was formed to advise on the city and regional economy, the paper examines the Regional Economic Strategy’s response to the 2014 oil slump. 

The report shows the North-east is beginning to stabilise after a difficult few years, with indicators suggesting that growth, albeit it modest, is likely to have returned during 2018 and 2019.

It also showed employment levels in Aberdeen increased by 3.4% in the last year and, to the year ending June 2019, 78% of working age people in Aberdeen and 81% in Aberdeenshire were in work, up from 70% and 78% in 2016.

Moreover,  the North East economy is forecast to grow by 1.5% per annum up to 2028. 

However, the report urged businesses to be cautiously optimistic and stressed the need for diversification within both the energy sector and the wider North-east.

Key challenges the region is likely to face in the next few years include the transition to a net-zero emissions economy and an ageing population, with experts calling for bold action across the public, private and university sector.   

Aberdeen City Council Conservative Co-Leader Douglas Lumsden said: “We’re proud of a proactive and dynamic approach to economic development and will continue to push forward with our plans, buoyed by the evidence that the strategy is supporting the renaissance of the region.    

“We will also continue to invest in digital infrastructure, roads, schools and thousands of new Council homes in all corners of Aberdeen as we focus on inclusive economic growth and the vision for a city where everyone can prosper.    

“The increasing collaboration and partnership working we see is delivering results in innovation and industry. We have to build from the position of strength we are in and look forward with the same drive and determination that first established Aberdeen as an economic powerhouse.” 

Aberdeen City Council Labour Co-Leader Jenny Laing said: “At the inaugural State of the Cities conference last year I spoke of our ambition to deliver projects that fostered inclusive economic growth for the people of Aberdeen and of our determination to do that at pace.

“In the 12-months since then the achievements have underlined that commitment. 

“From the opening of P&J Live and Aberdeen Art Gallery to the investment in housing and schools, 2019 has been a year in the life of what I would describe as no ordinary city and an extraordinary council, delivering quite incredible achievements against the odds and with a backdrop of economic challenges that need no explanation.   

“The message today is that we will not rest on our laurels and pledge as a Council to continue the journey we are on both socially and economically.” 

The region has benefited from major investment in a number of projects over the last few years, including the recently-opened Aberdeen bypass, the roll out of digital infrastructure in the city and the planned harbour expansion in Nigg Bay.  

The 10 recommendations outlined in the report, which were proposed by the Economic Policy Panel, include a greater focus on implementing the Regional Economic Strategy and to build upon the collaboration between business, academic institutions and policy makers. 

The Economic Policy Panel comprises Professor Graeme Roy, Director of the Fraser of Allander Institute; Dougie Peedle, Economic Associate for Pro Bono Economics and formerly Chief Economic Adviser to the States of Jersey; and Hanan Morsy, global strategist and macroeconomic and public policy expert.   

The conference’s keynote speaker Sir Howard Bernstein, who led Manchester’s transformation as Chief Executive of the city’s council from 1998 to 2017, was joined by Deirdre Michie, Oil and Gas UK Chief Executive, and Chris Murray, Director of Core Cities, in addressing delegates as part of the State of the Cities programme.  

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