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Oxford and Reading top growth league for third year running

Skills and new businesses drive decade of recovery for Oxford and Reading – PwC’s Good Growth for Cities index

Oxford and Reading top growth league for third year running

Swindon joins high ranking city list for the first time as a Top-10 ‘improver’

Cities in the South East mainly score above the UK average

The price of success in terms of reduced housing affordability and increased average commuting times is becoming increasingly evident for cities at the top of the index rankings

For the third year running, the two highest performing UK cities on PwC’s Good Growth for Cities 2018 index are Oxford and Reading, particularly reflecting improvements in income levels in the latest reporting period. The most recent results also show an ongoing gap between Oxford and Reading and the rest of the index, indicating continued improvement across jobs, income, health and skills in both of these cities.

In addition, the Buckinghamshire Thames Valley Local Enterprise Partnership has been placed as the second highest performing LEP in England, having “experienced the second largest increase in its score and emerged second in the overall LEP index” according to the report.

Setting out to show that there’s more to life, work and general well-being than just measuring GDP, this is the seventh annual Good Growth for Cities index. The index assesses the performance of 42 of the UK’s largest cities, England’s Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and the nine Combined Authorities against a basket of ten indicators, based on the views of the public as to what is key to economic success and well-being.

Among these ten indicators are employment, health, income and skills – the most important factors, as judged by the public – while housing affordability, commuting times, environmental factors and income inequality are also included, as is the number of new business starts.

The latest index analyses a decade of economic and social data to determine what long-term factors drive good growth. PwC analysis shows that the average city in the index has improved its score significantly over 10 years from 2005-7 to 2015-17, and has now more than recovered from the recession and downturn triggered by the global financial crisis.

John Ellis, PwC Senior Partner, Reading commented:

“I am pleased to see that Reading has maintained its position as amongst the UK’s highest-ranking cities. This reflects continued improvement across a range of measures, including jobs, income, skills, health scores and growth driven by technology-focused businesses.”

Paul Britton, CEO at the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce commented:

“Fantastic to see that, once again, Reading and Oxford have ranked highly in the Good Growth for Cities 2018 index. Both offer their local business communities ongoing opportunities and access to some of the best facilities in the UK. We are also really pleased to see Swindon placed as a Top-10 ‘improver’, a position that can only be strengthened by projects like the Western Rail Link to London Heathrow and Crossrail, bringing Swindon within the magic one-hour of the airport.

With an array of significant clusters, including financial and professional services, life sciences and technology companies, coupled with ideally located business parks, Reading continues to thrive. This will be even further enhanced as regional infrastructure networks start taking shape.

As home to the number one university in the world for the third year in a row, an enterprise zone and regionally significant business parks, Oxford and the wider county play a crucial role in promoting brand UK around the globe.”

Richard Harrington, Chief Executive at Buckinghamshire Thames Valley Local Enterprise Partnership commented:

“We are delighted to see Buckinghamshire Thames Valley LEP as a top area for the most improved and overall ranking for good growth. Being located at the heart of the Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge Growth Corridor, we recognise that the strength in this region comes from collaboration across city, town and rural areas.”

Read the full report here.


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