The Demos-PwC Good Growth for Cities Index 2015 measures the current performance of 39 of the largest UK cities, against a basket of ten categories, based on the views of the public and business – as key to economic success and wellbeing.
Employment, health, income and skills are the most important of these factors, as judged by the public, but housing affordability, commuting times, environmental factors and income inequality are also included in our index.
Key findings of this year’s annual study include:
- Rising employment and a return to growth in real earnings have helped boost the performance of UK cities and regions, but the latest average city scores still lag behind those recorded before the financial crisis in 2005-7.
- The highest-performing cities unchanged from 2014; these include Reading & Bracknell, Oxford, Edinburgh, Cambridge and Aberdeen with only the ordering altered. These high-income, high-skilled and investment-friendly cities have moved slightly ahead of other cities in the index, suggesting that they have benefited more from recovery than other UK cities.
- In the pre-recession 2005-07 period, the gap between the Northern Powerhouse and the rest of the UK was negligible. However, during the financial crisis and subsequent recession the disproportionate impact on the region’s manufacturing sector combined with the beneficial effect of quantitative easing (QE) on the financial sector of the South East served to widen the gap.
- However, the Northern Powerhouse has demonstrated improvement recently in three particular variables that are indicators of growth: transport, skills and housing affordability. Collectively, while continued investment and improvement is needed, these offer a strong base for further regional growth.
The Good Growth report points to decentralisation as a key part of unleashing the economic potential of UK plc by giving local leaders the ability to control the levers of good growth – particularly skills, infrastructure and business support.
The full report can be accessed from the dedicated Good Growth portal at pwc.co.uk/goodgrowth