Research Briefing | Oct 20, 2023

London leads high-value services growth, but not by much

London’s dominance of the UK’s high value service sectors—information & communications and professional, technical, & scientific activities—is clear. But although London saw faster growth in info & comms jobs in the decade before the pandemic, it lagged other regions with respect to output (GVA). The reverse was true for the professional sector. And several cities, including Bristol, Manchester and others, have done well in important sub-sectors. Going forward, London will probably outpace other regions in high-value services, but not by much.

What you will learn:

  • For info & comms, London’s performance, relative to other regions, was broadly favourable in the 2009-19 decade in employment terms, but not with respect to output (GVA). Every region except the East Midlands saw info & comms GVA grow faster than in London. In professional services, the story is reversed. London’s employment performance was below the national average before the pandemic, beaten by the North West, the East Midlands, South West, and others. But in GVA terms, London was the fastest growing region.
  • There are also big variations when we look at individual cities outside London, and specific sub-sectors. For example, Bristol saw strong growth pre-pandemic in the media sector, particularly motion picture & sound recording, and programming & broadcasting, and has since strengthened its position. Manchester saw large gains in some professional services, and Leeds recorded rapid growth in computer programming activities.
  • We forecast info & comms and professional services to continue to grow across UK cities and regions in the years towards 2030. London is set to see the fastest growth, but by a small margin.
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