Ulster University: Northern Ireland faces several years of low growth

The next three to five years will be "very challenging" for a restored Executive at Stormont, Gareth Hetherington has said. Picture by Brian Lawless

THE Northern Ireland economy faces several years of low growth, according to new analysis from Ulster University.

The latest forecast from the institution’s economic policy centre (UUEPC) anticipates Northern Ireland will likely avoid another recession in 2023, but just about.

Data compiled by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra) suggested the north experienced a technical recession in the middle two quarters of 2022.

UUPEC’s Spring Outlook projects that the economy will grow by just 0.1 per cent in 2023, rising to 1.1 per cent in 2024 and reaching 1.9 per cent in 2025 before falling again.

The centre’s director, Gareth Hetherington, said: “Despite the very challenging economic environment with ‘stickier’ inflation and increasing interest rates, the local economy has proved to be a lot more resilient than many had anticipated at the beginning of the year and the most likely outcome is that a recession will be avoided, but growth will remain low this year.”

But he added: “There is understandably a lot of focus on a returning Executive and the impact of the latest budget settlement, but people must understand that the next three to five years is going to be a very challenging time to be a politician whoever takes those decisions.

“The Irish Government had its budgetary day of reckoning after the financial crisis and they established an Expenditure Review Committee, or ‘An Bord Snip’ as it was known, to take a strategic approach to identifying spending priorities and importantly areas where funding should cease.

“The current crisis represents our budgetary day of reckoning and we should be taking a similar strategic approach to identifying priorities.”

Meanwhile, a more upbeat report out today from PwC identified Belfast as the best performing city among the UK’s three devolved administrations.

However, the Good Growth for Cities Index, which comprises 12 economic measures, from skills and housing to transport and health, showed Belfast still fell one place in the 2023 table of 50 cities to ninth place overall.