In this short video, Nick C Jones looks into what our latest 'Good growth for cities' report tells us about the health of our urban economies and what's needed to help them grow.
There have been encouraging signs that the UK economy is picking up. But sustaining this growth over the longer term will be critical to improving living standards and generating the revenues needed to fund public services and balance the government’s books.
UK cities have a critical role in securing this long term growth. But how should we define economic success at city level?
We know from our ongoing research with think tank Demos that the public wants growth that’s financially, socially and environmentally sustainable – good growth.
Our Good Growth for Cities Index reflects this by measuring the performance of the UK’s largest cities against a basket of ten categories defined by the public as key to economic wellbeing. Jobs, health, income and skills are deemed most important – and they’re fundamental to living standards. Housing, transport, sector balance, income distribution and the environment are also considered important.
So how did the cities perform this year? Reading, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Southampton and Cambridge are the highest ranked. These tend to do well on jobs, income and skills but even in these cities there’s a price to pay for success – such as relatively low scores for housing affordability.
Cities which rank lower down such as Middlesbrough, Wakefield and Swansea score less well for jobs, income and skills. Their strengths tend to be in areas like housing affordability and work-life balance.
In 2013, for the first time, we also included all Local Enterprise Partnership areas in England. We found that most above average areas are located in a continuous bloc from Leicestershire across to the Welsh border and down to Solent, Dorset and the Heart of the South West. But all local enterprise partnerships have some strong points as well as some areas for development.
The challenge and opportunity for cities is to unlock their potential as engines of good growth by investing in what businesses require to succeed, expand and create wealth - focusing on the key levers of skills, infrastructure and innovation. Our report has more specific recommendations on each of these areas, so please do have a look through to find out more about good growth in your city.