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

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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 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.

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.”

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.”

Keith Harrington, PwC South East Regional Leader, said:

“It’s fantastic to see that Oxford, Reading and Southampton have ranked as the UK’s top performing cities for the third year in a row. It shows that despite changing business climates, South East cities are continuing to grow. At PwC we've been investing in our South East practice, recognising the huge opportunities the region presents.

“However, it's important that cities across the South East continue to adapt and address the challenges facing them, particularly around housing affordability. This is an area that local governments, businesses and communities must address to ensure the region continues to remain attractive to investment and top talent. All of us who live, work and spend time in the region have a role to play in contributing to its future growth.”