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Key features of the economy

  • Barrow town is the second largest settlement in Cumbria at around 57,000 (84% of that of Barrow-in-Furness district), but due to its geography is relatively isolated and difficult to access (by road and rail)
  • It has close commuting and business links with Ulverston and South Lakeland as part of a Furness peninsula travel-to-work area
  • The economy of Barrow is dominated by its shipyard where there are currently some 8,500 workers plus contractors. This has grown by around 3,000 since 2013
  • Barrow is the centre of the "national endeavour" to develop a new generation of nuclear deterrent submarines (the £40 billion Dreadnought programme)
  • There are other important manufacturing employers in paper and fast moving consumer goods including Kimberly-Clark and Robert McBride
  • Barrow port acts as the UK’s west coast hub for oil and gas and the offshore wind farms in the Irish Sea, including Ørsted, the world’s largest operational wind farm. It is also a gateway to Sellafield Location of Furness College and its Advanced Manufacturing Facility

Opportunities and threats

  • The fortunes of the economy of Barrow are heavily dependent on the rollout and development of BAE’s Dreadnought programme
  • In spite of its recent economic growth and high wage levels, Barrow has the largest concentration of worklessness, low quality housing and people with poor skills and health in Cumbria
  • Barrow has Cumbria’s single largest concentration of areas and population in multiple deprivation. The 5 most deprived wards in Barrow on their own would make it around the 4th largest settlement in the county Transport access to Barrow is poor with the road access along the A590 suffering from resilience issues and there is a relatively limited train service
  • The town centre of Barrow has been struggling in spite of economic growth, with a high rate of town centre vacancies, as its location means it has a very limited catchment
  • There are development opportunities around the Barrow waterfront for housing and business employment

Barrow Business and Enterprise Support Project

Barrow Business & Enterprise Support Project

The Cumbria Business Growth Hub offer free, tailored support through a range of workshops, webinars, training, help to access wider supply chain opportunities and 1-2-1 adviser support.

Visit the website for more information.

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