BOURNEMOUTH will see its economy plunge down a league table of “cities” ranked by economic growth, a report has found.

The town was in the top five for economic growth at the end of 2020 but is set to be near the bottom of a league table of 50 at the end of this year.

The news comes in the UK Powerhouse report by law firm Irwin Mitchell and the Centre for Economic and Business Research (Cebr).

Southampton was the best performing city in the south, starting in the bottom five for economic output at the end of 2020 and expected to rise to 11th place by the end of this year – but with a 1.7 per cent fall in employment, one of the worst in the country.

Bournemouth’s jobs situation is expected to be relatively strong, with employment expected to rise by 0.4 per cent putting it in the top 20.

The town’s economy is expected to grow by 6.1 per cent this year.

Hannah Clipston, partner and Head of Business Legal Services at Irwin Mitchell in Southampton, said: “The south coast has traditionally done well from its hospitality, entertainment and tourism sectors and it remains to be seen how fast these will recover from the lifting of Covid-19 limitations. Powerhouse shows the services sector did see growth of 0.6 per cent in Q4 2020, but subsectors like accommodation, food and services saw contractions of up to 32.8 per cent.”

UK Powerhouse makes several recommendations to tackle the difficulties business face coming out of lockdown. These include measures to encourage investment and improve skills, while it urges local government to have plans to support job creation.

It urges the government to prioritise implementation of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the European Union with as little disruption as possible – and to negotiate a smoother trading relationship with the EU.