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Southampton ranks third again on PwC’s Good Growth for Cities index

For the third year in a row, Southampton has been ranked the third performing UK city on PwC’s Good Growth for Cities 2019 index, topped only by Oxford and Reading. 

The annual Good Growth for Cities 2019 sets out to show there is more to life, work and general wellbeing than simply measuring GDP. It measures the performance of 42 of the UK’s largest cities, England’s Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and ten Combined Authorities, against a basket of 10 factors which the public think are most important when it comes to economic well being. These include jobs, health, income and skills, as well as work-life balance, house-affordability, travel-to-work times, income equality, environment and business start-ups. 

Since the index began 11 years ago, Southampton has consistently made the top 10, and for the last three years, it’s achieved third place. This is following strong performances in income improvements, diversity of skills and the creation of sustainable environments. 

This year’s index has shown strong growth across the whole of the South East, with improvements in income, the environment and new businesses per head. Six out of eight cities in the South East have scored above the UK average. 

The placement of all South East cities featured within the index were: 

South Eastern cities in index

Place on index

















The index has revealed some challenges for the South East, particularly the affordability of housing. All South East cities are below the index average for house price to earnings,  suggesting the area is becoming increasingly unaffordable. 

Previous PwC research found that for those who can afford to buy a house in the South East, it will cost, on average, £34,000 extra to live near a top performing state primary school, and according to PwC’s UK Economic Outlook several key workers such as nurses and teachers are now being priced out of the rental market in the South East. 

Julian Gray, PwC Southampton Office Senior Partner, said: 

“It’s fantastic to see Southampton once again rank in third place in PwC’s Good Growth for Cities index. Across the city, the private and public sector are successfully working together to stimulate growth, and enhance the city’s commercial, cultural and civic life. 

“The city faces some challenges, such as jobs, quality of transport, and health. At PwC we are working alongside the Solent LEP to develop the Solent Local Industrial Strategy, which will shape the long-term future of the region, and stimulate new opportunities and growth across the Solent. 

“With highly skilled workers, an abundance of research and development activity, and the home of major institutions such as Southampton University and the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton is a dynamic, vibrant area, and an attractive place to invest, live and work.” 

Sandy Hopkins, Chief Executive Officer at Southampton City Council, said:

“To see Southampton ranked once again in the top three cities for good growth in the UK is testimony to our continued commitment to sustainable development.

“Our local economy performed better than any other city on the South Coast during the second quarter of 2019, according to last month’s UK Powerhouse report. Coupled with this, our consistently high position in PwC’s Good Growth for Cities index shows that our strong GDP growth is being achieved in a way that also offers economic wellbeing and stability for residents.

“With our City of Culture bid and next year’s Mayflower 400 celebrations, there’s so much going on in Southampton at the moment. We’re building global partnerships, have a thriving tech sector, and have long-term development plans with the Mayflower Quarter. This will continue to provide homes for businesses and residents while bringing forward development opportunities and state of the art public realm. All of this is underpinned by a sustainable transport vision connecting the city.”

Jonathan House, PwC partner and local government leader, commented:

“In an era of political, technological and environmental disruption, cities and regions that want to get ahead, need to do things differently. Even with the uncertainty of Brexit, over the last year, local leaders have had significant success in delivering good growth in their cities and regions. Our research shows the need to take a comprehensive approach to growth, focusing on improving productivity to compete on a global stage, but also on ensuring fairness and inclusive growth so that people and places don’t feel left behind.  

“Local leaders need to take a broad view on what economic success means, focusing on the outcomes they want to achieve in terms of inclusive growth, community resilience and improved experience, and crucially, having a plan to translate those ambitions into reality. 

“Skills amongst the working age population, alongside the number of new businesses created, have seen the largest improvements; this is a result of leaders focusing on building new opportunities and investing in the talent of their city and region. 

“The UK’s cities are known globally for their skills, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. Our most successful cities know that they don’t compete against other UK cities, they compete against cities across Europe, the Middle East and the US. As the UK’s position on the world stage shifts, cities and regions will need to reposition themselves too, and consider how they can stand out and compete globally, improve productivity and support innovation, while also creating places that are fair and inclusive. ”


Notes to editors

About the Good Growth for Cities report

  1. A copy of the Demos-PwC Good Growth for Cities index 2019 can be downloaded from from 00:01 hrs GMT, 12 November.

  2. The Demos-PwC Good Growth for Cities index 2019 measures the current performance of 42 of the largest UK cities against a basket of 10 indicators that - based on the views of the public – are seen as critical to economic success and wellbeing. Employment, health, income and skills are the most important of these factors, as judged by the public, but housing affordability, commuting times, environmental factors and income inequality are also included in the index.

  3. The latest index is based on data that was averaged over the period 2016-18. We use rolling three year averages in order to minimize the impact of volatility from year to year that is often a feature of local area data.

  4. We have included cities with a travel-to-work area (TTWA) of at least 250,000 people.

  5. Further methodological details, including definitions of all of the variables in the index and data sources, can be found in Appendix 1 of the report.

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