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Thames Valley towns make the Top-4 in the 2022 Good Growth for Cities Index: Taking Action on Levelling-up.

08:42 28 March in Berkshire, Environment, Energy & Infrastructure, News, Oxfordshire, Sectors

Provincial cities are expected to show stronger economic growth than those that are larger and more metropolitan and there is an increased focus from the public on wellbeing, the environment and income distribution, according to PwC’s annual Good Growth for Cities report.

When measured against the priorities chosen by the public, eleven out of fourteen cities in the South-East score above the UK average, with Oxford and Reading ranking first and fourth respectively in the national index. Swindon, who are for the purposes of the Index located in the South-West, was placed 3rd overall whilst High Wycombe and Aylesbury was placed 7th.   A total of fifty cities were included in the 2022 Index.

For over ten years the PWC Good Growth for Cities Index has provided an informed and intelligent bell-weather for the performance of UK cities and towns. The index looks beyond performance against purely economic indicators, and focuses on additional measures of well-being, such as access to jobs, income, health, skills, work-life balance, housing, transport, and the environment.  In addition, and to reflect some of the more obvious issues highlighted by the pandemic, the 2022 Index includes two new indicators covering safety and the vibrancy of local high streets.

“A widespread shift in public priorities has been triggered by the pandemic. This shift has led to a change in how and where people live and work – altering the makeup of the UK economy, and the shape of growth prospects for every city and region across the nation.”

Reflecting on the Index, Paul Britton, Chief Executive of Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce (TVCC) said: “The EU-Exit and then the pandemic have been very challenging for all. The latter has most certainly led to a change in how and where people live, work and indeed their appetite to commute.  This has altered the makeup of the Thames Valley, and wider UK economy, and will undoubtedly shape the growth prospects for our region’s towns and cities”.

“With the changing measures introduced into the Index in 2022, it is especially pleasing to see that all four Thames Valley towns and cities placed so highly and at the top of the overall ratings.   Once again, this trusted appraisal of the UK has proved a clear, independent, and unequivocal statement of the continued strength of the Thames Valley economy and its importance to UK plc”.

Bill Gornall-King, President of the TVCC said “This Chamber of Commerce will continue to articulate the importance of investing in the success of the Thames Valley region and our role as a key driver for the UK’s levelling-up agenda.   It is imperative to look beyond political soundbites and regional headlines of the North-South divide to ensure there is more precision on the specific issues that affect businesses and the UK economy and how the strength of places – like the Thames Valley – can provide the springboard for wider economic and productivity growth”.

Summary of Key Facts

Gross Value Added (GVA):  By region, the GVA growth rate of the Southeast 5.9% in 2022 (compared with 7.9% in 2021) the 2nd highest in the UK. The Southwest at 6.1% (8.2% in 2021) was 1st.

Overall Performance: As a whole, the Southeast performs particularly strongly in four key variables:

  • Income: Where most cities in the region score significantly above average, with Oxford, Reading and Swindon all placed in the top-4.
  • Health: Where twelve cities perform significantly above average, with the other two performing at the average, with High Wycombe & Aylesbury, Oxford and Reading taking the top-3 spots.
  • Jobs: Where half of the cities in the Southeast score significantly above the UK average and the other half at the average, with Swindon and Oxford placed in the top-4.

Safety:  Across this Index measure, High Wycombe & Aylesbury, Swindon, and Oxford were placed 1st. 2nd and 3rd respectively.

Economic Growth Rate: The average annual economic growth rate of cities in the Southeast is 7.9% in 2021, above the UK average of 7.3.    Oxford’s economic growth rate of 7.9% in 2021 is higher than the UK average, and higher than some of the other cities in this region.