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PwC: UK cities have 'more than recovered' from financial crisis

Nov 09
Tags: PwC
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PwC: UK cities have 'more than recovered' from financial...

PwC has highlighted some encouraging recent trends for professionals and businesses in key cities across the UK, which have "more than recovered" from the recession and economic downturn triggered by the financial crisis.

The findings featured in the Good Growth for Cities 2018 index, which was published by PwC and the cross-party think-tank Demos.

Leading locations for 'good growth'

One of the key aims of the annual Good Growth for Cities index is to show that measuring GDP alone isn't enough to show improvements in general life, work and wellbeing across the UK.

The study measures the performance of dozens of cities, local enterprise partnerships and combined authorities, using indicators including employment, health, income, skills, housing affordability, environmental factors and new business start-ups.

In the latest research, Oxford and Reading remained the top-ranking cities, while Southampton gained significant ground and began to close the gap on the top two.

Preston topped the list of most-improved locations, followed by Middlesbrough & Stockton, Hull and Milton Keynes.

The full results were as follows:

Highest-ranking cities

  • Oxford
  • Reading
  • Southampton
  • Milton Keynes
  • Bristol
  • Edinburgh
  • Swindon
  • Coventry
  • Aberdeen
  • Leicester

Top ten improvers

  • Preston
  • Middlesbrough & Stockton
  • Hull
  • Milton Keynes
  • Birmingham
  • Wakefield & Castleford
  • Aberdeen
  • Liverpool
  • Swindon
  • Manchester

Key trends showed that improving average skills among the UK's youngest workers and new business formation have been the biggest drivers of good growth over the past ten years. Furthermore, unemployment has fallen to below pre-crisis levels.

Combined authorities in England made improvements in each area compared to the 2017 report. Greater Manchester achieved the strongest growth of all, largely thanks to an increase in the number of new business start-ups per head.

However, the West of England combined authority retained its position and extended its lead at the top of the index ranking. This was fuelled by increasing skills, particularly among younger people.

'Price of success' on the increase

While the latest Good Growth for Cities index highlighted a number of positive trends, it also showed declining scores in areas such as transport, owner-occupation rates and housing affordability.

PwC said these developments have illustrated that the 'price of success' is increasing for many people, particularly younger cohorts.

John Hawksworth, chief economist at the firm, noted that successive groups of young workers have achieved higher average skills levels, pushing up index scores and fuelling business growth in many cities.

However, it is precisely this demographic that is having to deal with tougher housing affordability.

"As they are pushed further from city centres to afford a place to buy or even rent, average commuting times have also risen," Mr Hawksworth said.

"Having largely recovered from the financial crisis, addressing the housing and infrastructure supply constraints that drive these negative trends will be key challenges for the next decade for both central and local government, looking beyond the immediate issues around Brexit."

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Image: Alexand

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