Five North West places above UK average for work-life balance and income share

Adam Waller

Liverpool, Manchester, Preston and “Warrington and Wigan” have performed above the UK average for income distribution and work-life balance, according to PwC’s Good Growth for Cities Index. The report measures income distribution by the ratio of median to mean income, and work-life balance by the proportion of employed people working less than 45 hours per week.

Most of the cities in the region included in the analysis also perform above or around the UK average for house price to earnings, skills and new businesses.

For some reason “Warrington and Wigan” are coupled together as one entity, despite one borough being in a Combined Authority and the other a neighbouring unitary.

The Demos-PwC Good Growth for Cities Index ranks 50 of the UK’s largest cities (generally considered those with populations of at least 350,000 people), plus the London boroughs as a whole, based on the public’s assessment of 12 economic measures, including jobs, health, income, safety and skills, as well as work-life balance, housing, travel-to-work times, income equality, high street shops, environment and business startups.

The highest performing city is Oxford, which comes top of the index out of all UK cities.

Think tank Demos is non-partisan, but the report didn’t hold back on calls for ambitious devolution reform to reshape the roles of central and local government, business, and communities, along with greater fiscal flexibility and innovation.

“Without the redistribution of accountabilities and responsibilities from a central to a local level, places will not be able to respond to their own needs and opportunities. A new type of devolution is needed,” said PwC’s Carl Sizer, head of UK regions and platforms.

There are large variations in the performance of cities in the North West, as measured by the Good Growth Index. The highest performing city is Preston, which comes 11th in our Index. The lowest performing city is Manchester, ranking 47th out of 51.

There is little correlation between economic growth and Good Growth, illustrating that strong economic performance in the North West has not necessarily translated into improved outcomes for local residents across the priorities they have identified.

The 4 cities in the North West have different strengths, according to the report, including:

  • Manchester – Work life balance: Manchester is ranked in the top 10 cities for this indicator
  • Liverpool – Work life balance: Residents of Liverpool are deemed to have the best work-life balance in the UK, with the fewest number of residents working more than a 45 hour week.
  • Preston – Owner occupation: Preston has the highest rate of owner occupation of all cities in the UK
  • Warrington and Wigan – Jobs: Warrington and Wigan have the 10th lowest unemployment rate of the cities included within the analysis

Looking at the rankings as a whole, Preston is the 11th highest performing city in the country, and also the highest across the North.

In terms of areas for improvement, the data shows that cities in the North West need continued focus on measures such as income, health, the environment and high streets.

Adam Waller, Market Senior Partner for PwC Manchester, said: “Good Growth for Cities is an important report as it shows where our cities are performing well, and where there are opportunities for growth and intervention. It’s encouraging to see the North West performing well for work-life balance, income distribution and skills as we know that these measures have a real impact on the day-to-day lives of people living here.

“The areas where our cities haven’t met the national average such as income, health and high streets should be our focus in the North West, and the report will provide regional partnerships guidance on where interventions can have the biggest impact.”