This month we will turn our attention to the investment market in Cardiff and the wider South Wales area.
Background and demographics
South Wales has a population of 2.2m, a figure that represents around 75% of the total population of Wales and also makes it one of the most densely populated parts of the UK. Cardiff itself has a population around 350,000 while the greater metropolitan area including the South Wales Valleys to the north has a population of 1.1m. Swansea has a population of 240,000 and Newport has a population of 150,000.
Welsh Government figures forecast a substantial increase in the population of the city of Cardiff itself, which they suggest will reach 440,000 by 2039 – the highest population increase in Wales by far. They add that Swansea and Newport will grow only slightly to 262,000 and 158,000 respectively over the same period.
The economic performance of Wales generally tends to lag the wider UK. The GVA of Wales as a whole is the lowest of any UK region at £18,002 per head (2015 figures) compared to England at £26,159. The economy of South Wales was traditionally heavy industrial, based around coal mining and steel. Today the economy is more diversified and is based around services with a number of modern manufacturing industries.
Cardiff’s economy outperforms the surrounding area. It has a GVA of £22,783, half that of London but similar to cities such as Birmingham and Manchester. The main employers here include health, education and public administration, financial and business services (an estimated 50,000 employees alone) including a large cluster of call centres, media including film and TV, ICT, retail, some tourism and growing bioscience and digital sectors.
Further north at Ebbw Vale car manufacturer TVR is planning to establish a new factory with an initial 150 jobs. The area has been designated an Enterprise Zone focussed around advanced manufacturing.