Good Growth for Cities

Measuring what matters when it comes to growth


Good Growth for Cities measures the performance of the UK’s largest cities against 10 indicators that the public think are most important when it comes to economic wellbeing. The Index was developed by PwC and the think tank Demos in the aftermath of the financial crisis in response to the sense that we need to look beyond GDP headlines to measure economic success.

We found that factors like jobs, income, skills and health are the most important factors in the eyes of the public, alongside housing, transport, income distribution, work-life balance, business start-ups and the environment.

Demos logo

Key findings

Good Growth for Cities 2019 shows continued broad improvements across cities in the UK, driven in particular by falling unemployment rates and increases in new businesses.

However, there are also signs that progress has plateaued, particularly among top performing cities in the index.

Overall, the ‘price of success’ is becoming more pronounced, and declining scores in owner occupation, transport and housing affordability highlight some of the ongoing challenges faced by UK cities.

The long term view shows that good growth improvements have been largely driven by skills and new businesses. As the economy and world of work transforms, ensuring people are equipped with the digital and other skills they need for future jobs and that they have opportunities to improve their living standards will be key to ensuring that individuals and places achieve their full potential.

Highest ranking and most improved cities in Good Growth for Cities 2019

Highest ranking cities

Top 10 improvers









Milton Keynes





Wolverhampton & Walsall







Find out how your city or Local Enterprise Partnership performs

View Good Growth Index scores across
Selected city
Selected LEP
Performance compared to cityLEP average
Select an indicator below to compare against other citiesLEPs
Map shows a comparison of ratings between and other citiesLEPs for .
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
View map as Heatmap | Traffic lights

Implications for cities

The changing good growth performance of many places over the long term shows that success is not determined by where a city is currently positioned on the index.

So, how can local leaders design and implement strategies and interventions that deliver good growth outcomes for their places and people?

Economic, political and technological disruption mean that new strategies will be needed to achieve good growth in future.

Five success factors for good growth

Start and end with citizen outcomes

Collaboration across the public, private and third sectors is critical to deliver on a comprehensive place strategy, and a focus on outcomes is the glue that binds successful place collaborations together. Everything needs to start and end with the citizen outcomes you’re aiming to achieve, and this means including the public on the journey and making sure everyone’s voice is heard.

Take a broad view

Successful plans and strategies will feature broad measures of economic success and consider how they interact with each other, as well as focusing on how benefits will be distributed to achieve inclusive growth. While different places will have different areas of focus, in the longer term, the local skills and jobs strategy needs to be aligned to local plans for housing, transport and the environment.

Balance today’s challenges with tomorrow’s opportunities

Successful strategies will be grounded in an honest assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of a place, with an eye on the future. The economy is changing rapidly, with disruptive technology and automation creating new jobs, changing others and making some obsolete. Local leaders, and employers, need to have an understanding about what this means for good growth in their place.

Build collaborative relationships

Achieving broad economic success means engaging with a broad range of organisations across a place, and beyond. This means investing in relationships and building collaborative ways of working, including with communities and people themselves.

Back up your ambitions with deliverable plans

For many, the key challenge is in bringing ambitions, vision and strategy to life, and delivering real change for people. For local public sector leaders, funding pressures, competing priorities and capacity gaps all make this difficult. Clear accountability, strong governance and a funding and financing strategy aligned to the vision for the place are all essential to ensuring that resources and effort are focused on successful delivery.

Regional spotlight

Find out more about each region by opening its card

London scores significantly above average for new business, income and skills.

New businesses and jobs are driving good growth across the midlands.

Jobs and skills are behind good growth improvements in Belfast and Derry.

Liverpool leaps ahead, and is among this year’s top improvers.

Income, jobs and skills are driving good growth in Scottish cities, with Aberdeen taking over Edinburgh.

South East leads the way, with most cities scoring well for income, health and environment.

Bristol flies high, moving one place up the Good Growth for Cities Index.

A good year for Welsh cities, with Cardiff the fifth and Swansea the sixth most improved .

Yorkshire is home to this year’s most improved city - Bradford.

< Back

< Back
[+] Read More

Contact us

Jonathan House

Jonathan House

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

Tel: +44 (0)7791 114593

Karen Finlayson

Karen Finlayson

Risk Assurance Partner and Regional Lead for Government, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7881 805552

Follow us