THE North-East is predicted to continue to have the lowest economic growth in the country to 2023 - but Darlington is bucking the trend.

According to EY’s Regional Economic Forecast, improvements in economic growth are expected over the next three years with GVA (gross value added).

However, this growth will continue to trail the rest of the UK, with the North-East’s most dynamic sectors, IT and professional services, accelerating but still behind the fastest growing regions.

The region is also expected to see employment growth slow significantly over this period.

The North-East is projected to add 2,700 jobs per year up to 2023, which is the lowest absolute and relative increase across the UK.

This places it alongside Yorkshire and Humber and the West Midlands, as those expected to be at the heart of the Government’s ‘levelling up’ drive, as the three regions with the lowest rate of job creation over the next three years.

However, there are disparities, with both Darlington and Newcastle predicted to outperform the region as a whole in terms of GVA growth.

Gains made by Darlington in the wholesale and retail trade and professional, scientific and technical sectors are predicted to be offset, in part, by losses in manufacturing and public administration over this period, keeping the employment growth rate at 0.5 per year for 2020 to 2023.

Sunderland is also forecast to experience better GVA growth rates than the North-East region, however the city is expected to see its performance slow considerably as growth falls from 1.9 per cent to 1.2 per cent for the next three years, placing it below the national average.

Meanwhile, Middlesbrough and Durham are expected to underperform over the forecast period as they see their GVA growth rates slow.

Losses in the manufacturing sector are cited for static employment rates across both towns.

Mike Scoular, office managing partner for EY’s Newcastle office, said: “This report highlights the well-documented issue of the increasing disparity between major cities and towns across the UK.

"It’s great to see Newcastle and Darlington perform well and capitalise on the expansion of the public and private sectors in the region but it’s disappointing that Middlesbrough and Durham underperform and lag behind.

“It’s clear that a top-down approach isn’t working and government alone is not going to solve this problem."