Growth in Southampton

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Southampton has climbed in to the top three cities in the UK for the first time in this year’s Good Growth for Cities index, recently published by PwC and Demos.

For the last decade Southampton has risen steadily through the league tables for growth, confirming itself as the economic powerhouse of England’s South coast. Backing up the PwC and Demos index is Irwin Mitchell’s most recent UK Powerhouse report, highlighting that Southampton’s Growth Value Added (GVA) grew by 2.6% in the second quarter of 2018, with employment also being up 1.9% in the same period. They forecast that the city can look forward to seeing continued growth in both areas in 2019.

As one of the fastest growing cities in England, Southampton is a city of opportunity. These latest reports are a reflection of the council’s commitment to delivering successful and sustainable economic growth. When compared to the other 41 cities included in the PwC and Demos Good Growth index, Southampton has seen a vast improvement in eight of the twelve indicators that are considered; with advances in environment, skills, owner occupation, new businesses, health and jobs being of most note.

Based upon the City Centre Master Plan, the city is undergoing an ambitious scheme of regeneration, which has attracted over £2bn of investment since 2012. At the core of the plan are the Very Important Projects (VIPs) which are either completed, underway or in the pipeline. The VIPs are becoming part of Southampton's new landscape and contributing to the creation of a vibrant and energetic city centre. This tangible display of redevelopment and growth gives businesses and investors the confidence that Southampton's ambition is matched by a clear vision and ability to deliver.

Southampton has also been recognised as one of the most improving cities in the competitiveness index according to a report by the Centre for International Competitiveness and has a thriving digital tech business that has recently increased turnover by 41% since 2014 with a value of £2.1bn according according to the most recent Tech Nation report. The sector has created an estimated 29,567 jobs in the city, which is the home to the world-leading Web Science Institute. The CBRE Creative Regions report 2017 ranked Southampton in 12th position of 25 regional creative locations – placing it above cities such as Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield, Liverpool, Milton Keynes, Cardiff and Portsmouth.

The council has recently commenced an inquiry looking at the future of work in the city. At the inaugural meeting, the Inquiry Panel was informed that a number of occupations within the public and private sector have been identified as being likely to see an increase in demand across the UK. Research by the Centre for Cities has led them to estimate that the UK economy will grow by up to 10.3% by 2030 as a result of Artificial Intelligence, robotics and other technological advances. One function of the scrutiny panel will be to ensure that these growth areas are supported by the council so that they thrive in Southampton.

With this in mind, members of the scrutiny panel last week visited Network, a development by the city council at the Marlands shopping centre, to learn how it will create a bespoke environment to support creative, digital and knowledge based entrepreneurs by providing the city’s first collaborative, co-working environment.

With a further programme of large scale development being announced in the New Year and an ambitious transport strategy taking shape, Southampton is proving to be an exciting place to live, work and visit.