Reading is tops for 'good growth'

by Jim Dunton Fri 22 November 2013, 1:30 pm

A survey ranking UK cities by their attractiveness to the public and their economic success has placed Reading the top of the list.

The 2013 Good Growth for Cities index, produced by think-tank Demos and consultants Pricewaterhouse Coopers, puts Reading and Bracknell at the vanguard of 39 cities rated by a basket of measures identified by the public and business as key to economic success and wellbeing.

Those measures include jobs, income, health and skills levels, as well as the affordability of housing and transport.

Second place in the ranking went to Aberdeen, with Edinburgh third, Southampton fourth and Cambridge fifth.

Tables based on economic size alone are usually dominated by London, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, but the “good growth” measures provide a contrasting view on what makes a city attractive. 

The largest cities fare less well due to challenges with transport congestion, housing affordability, income inequality, and other-quality-of-life indicators.

Above average cities for “good growth” performed well on the job, income and skills measures in the report.

With the exception of London, cities that ranked lower in the index scored comparatively well on housing affordability and work-life balance but less well for jobs, income and skills.

The capital’s “good growth” credentials - led by its income levels - were said to be hampered by the cost of its housing, working hours and transport.

John Hawksworth, chief UK economist at Pricewaterhouse Coopers, said the analysis demonstrated that there was a rising price for economic success for many of the largest UK cities.

“Increased congestion, pollution, income inequality and high house prices contribute to rankings in the index below that expected based on traditional GVA measures,” he said.

“Medium-sized cities with better quality of life tend to score better on our index based on what the public says is important to them.”

London came close to the bottom of the list, however Pricewaterhouse Coopers said there were “stark” contrasts between boroughs, with Wandsworth, Harrow, and Redbridge identified as being well above the average for all UK cities.

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