Good growth for cities 2017

Our annual index of economic wellbeing in UK cities



Place based inclusive growth is now firmly on the agenda as a key priority for the Government, with its stated ambition to deliver an “economy that works for all”.

This, in turn, means that success needs to be judged in new ways: factors like health, housing affordability and quality of life need to be put alongside jobs, skills and incomes when we measure good growth.

Importantly, places need to see success through the eyes of what the public wants and needs, in both an economic and social sense.

Now in its sixth year, the Demos-PwC Good Growth for Cities Index measures the current performance of a range of the largest UK cities, and all Local Enterprise Partnership areas in England, against a basket of ten indicators based on the views of the public and business as to what is key to economic success and wellbeing.

Percentages wheel

Find out how your city or Local Enterprise Partnership performs

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Perfomance compared to cityLEP average
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Map shows a comparison of ratings between and other citiesLEPs for .
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Below average (≤ -0.5)
Around average (-0.49 – +0.49)
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Relative to the index for all cities LEPs in 2011-13
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South East Midlands LEP data prior to 2014-16 does not contain Northamptonshire, a copy of which can be obtained by emailing

Key findings

UK Map

As with our 2016 report, the two highest performing cities are Oxford and Reading, with Oxford maintaining its narrow lead at the top. The most recent results also show a continuing gap between these two cities and the rest of the index.

However it’s worth noting that in less affluent areas, some of the cities with low overall scores have seen some of the biggest increases, such as Middlesbrough & Stockton which is in the top 10 cities with most improved scores. The top 5 improvers are: Birmingham, Leeds, Leicester, Newcastle and Southampton.

For the first time in this year’s report we have also looked at how the four nations of the UK have performed. England and Scotland have outperformed Wales and, to a lesser extent, Northern Ireland almost throughout the entire period since 2005-07.

Our analysis of English Combined Authorities shows a strong performance in metro mayor cities. In May 2017, six new metro mayors were elected. Three of these were elected into regions containing cities in the top 10 improvers in our index: Birmingham, Middlesbrough and Liverpool. Other core cities in the top 10 improvers were Leeds and Newcastle – highlighting the increased pace of recovery in major urban centres in the UK.

However, the ‘price of success’ has also become increasingly evident recently. Declining scores since last year’s index in work-life balance, transport, health and particularly housing affordability highlight some of the ongoing challenges faced by UK cities.  

Implications for cities

This year’s Index highlights four broad implications for city leaders, working with their business and educational partners and the public to deliver good growth:

  • Shape visions/identities and economic development strategies to achieve inclusive, place based growth supported by local industrial strategies spanning skills, infrastructure, innovation and business growth.
  • Use the assets in a place to leverage investment and attract talent and finance, post-Brexit, by being investor ready and capturing value in new ways. Cities need to grasp the impacts, understand their strengths and weaknesses in a post-EU landscape and develop a prioritised action plan to attract business investors and employees. This includes cities stepping up and proactively going abroad on a city-to-city basis to find investment, develop trading links and promoting exports.
  • Build the case to secure additional fiscal powers as part of a re-booted devolution deals process.
  • Delivering good growth cannot be achieved by any one person working alone but goes hand-in-hand with place based transformation, where local government, central government and the private sector act together and work collaboratively to deliver outcomes and where place based leaders facilitate local economic growth, prosperity and well-being.

Contact us

John Hawksworth
Chief Economist, PwC United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7213 1650

Nick C Jones
Director of PwC’s Public Services Research, PwC United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)20 7213 1593

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