Good growth for cities

Measuring what matters when it comes to growth



Against an uncertain and changing economic and political landscape, the places where we live and work are more important than ever.

With the UK at a crossroads, leaders have an opportunity to reconsider their economic strategies, their place in the global economy and their role in delivering an economy that works for all and a fairer future for people living across the UK. This means, as they look to the future, place leaders need to take a broad view on what economic success means.

Now with 10 years of data, the Demos-PwC Good Growth for Cities Index measures the 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.


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Find out how your city or Local Enterprise Partnership performs

Select view
Select city
Select LEP
Perfomance compared to cityLEP average
  • Select an indicator to compare against other citiesLEPs
Map shows a comparison of ratings between and other citiesLEPs for .
Select year
View map as
Below average (≤ -0.5)
Around average (-0.49 – +0.49)
Above average (≥ +0.5)
Relative to the index for all cities LEPs in 2011-13
Low to high rating
South East Midlands LEP data prior to 2014-16 does not contain Northamptonshire, a copy of which can be obtained by emailing

Key findings

The two highest performing cities in the 2018 index are Oxford and Reading, with Oxford maintaining its narrow lead at the top. This reflects continued improvement across a range of measures in both cities, particularly income and transport.

Some of the cities with low overall scores have seen some of the biggest increases recently, such as Middlesbrough & Stockton, Liverpool and Wakefield & Castleford. Much of this reflects the way that falls in unemployment rates have rippled out to all parts of the UK recently, reaching regions that had previously lagged behind.

However, the impact of unemployment rates on overall Good Growth scores diminishes when analysing performance over a longer time horizon. The 2018 edition of Good Growth for Cities takes a ten year view, tracking how places have recovered from the financial crisis and revealing the structural factors driving performance.

The average city in our index has improved its score significantly over this ten year period, more than recovering from the decline associated with the recession triggered by the global financial crisis. This has been driven largely by strong increases in new business creation per head, alongside skills levels for those aged 16-24. But housing affordability and commuting times have deteriorated, suggesting an urgent need to invest in housing and transport infrastructure.

Implications for cities

The next year offers place leaders a critical window of opportunity to come together to define and deliver an economic vision for their places based on a broad definition of good growth. With this in mind, there are three main implications leaders across the government and business should focus on:

  1. Use Local Industrial Strategies as a catalyst for collaboration to develop a shared and credible economic vision and plan
    Meaningful collaboration will be critical to successful Local Industrial Strategies, including with stakeholders locally, across national government, and across geographical boundaries.
  2. Develop a strong evidence base and be ‘investor ready’ to secure future funding, both from the public and private sector, nationally and globally
    Against an increasingly complex and uncertain backdrop, it is more important than ever that places build credible plans based on a strong evidence base. This will be essential both to secure public sector funds, for example the new Shared Prosperity Fund, as well as attracting international investment.
  3. Focus on achieving ‘inclusive growth’, particularly around skills and education, housing and transport infrastructure, and health and wellbeing.
    It is important that places focus on inclusive growth as their performance improves in order to ensure people and communities aren’t left behind.

Across each of these areas, what will make a difference is strong leadership and meaningful collaboration. It is not going to be down to one leader, or one organisation, or even one sector, to deliver change and drive good growth. But places should be ambitious about what they can achieve by working together.

“Whether you’re a council leader, mayor or LEP chair, place leaders need to be able to tell the story of their city in a way that resonates on the doorstep and on the world stage, for today and for the future.”

Jonathan House, Partner

Contact us

John Hawksworth

Chief Economist, PwC United Kingdom

Jonathan House

Health Industries and Devolved and Local Government Advisory Leader, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7791 114 593

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