Midlands cities performing well in growth report

Matthew Hammond

Cities in the Midlands are performing above the UK average in terms of their growth, a new report has concluded.

The 2016 Good Growth for Cities Index is produced by PwC in collaboration with think-tank, Demos.

The report, the fifth produced by the pairing, measures the performance of 42 of the UK’s largest cities, England’s Local Enterprise Partnerships and the new Combined Authorities against a basket of categories defined by the public and business as key to local socio-economic success.

Moving beyond a simple measure of gross value-added (GVA), the 10 factors assessed by the index include jobs, health, income and skills, work-life balance, house-affordability, travel-to-work times, income equality and pollution, as well as business start-ups.

The 2016 report says that the eight cities in the Midlands included in the index – which somewhat bizarrely includes Milton Keynes – are performing well on:

•    Jobs, where half of the cities are above UK average level.
•    Health and new businesses per head, where almost half of the cities in the region are above average, and the rest at the UK average level.
•    Transport and environment, where all cities in the Midlands score around the UK average, or above in the cases of Coventry and Milton Keynes.

The index also reveals that Leicester, Coventry and Nottingham are all performing at or above the UK average on all measures. Stoke and Derby are close behind with only one measure each falling below average.

Milton Keynes is rated as the best performing city – although its somewhat dubious claim to be in the Midlands questions its relevance – ranking 7th overall in the UK. It has the most wide-ranging score profile being above average for jobs, income, health, new businesses, owner occupation and environment but below average on elements such as work-life balance, housing affordability and income distribution.

When compared with the 2015 index, the category with the largest improvement in score is job. These improvements are in line with the national trend. Across the region, the categories that have seen the biggest score reductions are owner occupation and work-life balance.

Commenting on the region’s performance, Matthew Hammond, regional chairman for PwC in the Midlands, said the index made encouraging reading.

“Birmingham remains the most investable city for real estate in the UK ahead of Manchester, Edinburgh and London and as the capital of the Midlands remains the first-choice destination for those relocating out of London,” he said.

“The investments in infrastructure including rail, metro trams and HS2 combined with high levels of commercial and residential development activity across the city are making a dramatic difference to the look, feel and welcome the city provides to visitors.  Our reputation, image and profile beyond the boundaries of our region is changing and for the better.

“The West Midlands Combined Authority area fares favourably in our Good Growth report too, sitting third in the UK, a springboard for the advent of an elected Mayor in 2017 to take the region further forward.”

He said the challenge in 2017 and beyond would be for the region’s public, civic, business, education and civic leaders to work together to deliver wider economic, employment and skills benefits.

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