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UK’s true turbo-economy showcased as Oxford and Reading top PwC’s Good Growth for Cities Report for the 4th consecutive year

14:43 26 January in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Europe, News, Oxfordshire, Sectors, Talent and Innovation

For the fourth consecutive year Oxford and Reading have been ranked as the top performing UK cities on PwC’s Good Growth for Cities 2020 report.

This year’s Good Growth for Cities 2020 report, published January 2021, looks into the economic impact of coronavirus on local and regional economies across the UK, highlighted how several cities – including Oxford, Reading and Swindon – have benefited from a ‘sectoral mix’ with its ‘performance on broader economic and social indicators’ helping to provide resilience.

Jonathan House, devolved and local government lead for PwC, said:

“The pandemic has led to people living their life much closer to home and the likelihood is some of these lifestyle changes will stay for the medium-term. Citizens will value different things and those places that meet those needs will be the ones that bounce back quicker.  This opens up opportunities for places that have advantages in terms of liveability and community, and where ‘price of success’ factors, such as housing affordability, are less of an issue. The report sets out a series of recommendations for leaders from across national and local government, as well as the private and third sectors, as they plan their recovery strategies. This includes taking a broad approach to economic wellbeing and building resilience will be essential to create liveable vibrant places where people want to live, work and visit.”


The Index measures the performance of 42 UK cities and England’s 38 Local Enterprise Partnership’s (LEPs) against the factors that the public consider most important to their economic wellbeing. These factors have stayed largely consistent over the years, and perhaps surprisingly, have remained largely consistent across 2020 too. Health, jobs, housing and income are ranked as the most important of the ten economic and social factors, followed by skills, the environment, transport, income distribution, work-life balance and business start-ups.

  • Oxford (1st) and Reading (2nd) are the two highest performing cities in this year’s Index – for the fourth year running.
  • Swindon (11th) retains its high position (10th in 2019).
  • Three Thames Valley LEPs are scored in the top four LEPs – Buckinghamshire (1st); Oxfordshire (2nd) and Thames Valley Berkshire (4th). Swindon & Wiltshire is placed 14th.


Oxford increased its lead in first place. The report stating that ‘Oxford performs particularly strongly in jobs, income, health and skills of the adult population, scoring within the top five cities for each of these variables.’

Oxford has the lowest percentage of Universal Credit claimants (at 3.8%) with 1.5% of its population aged 16 to 64 were claiming benefits before the pandemic. Swindon (at 4.2% and 1.7% of its popul-ation) and Reading (at 4.4% and 1.6% of its population) were cities also located in the bottom four.

Meanwhile the report states that those cities that have to date showed most resilience to the economic impacts of the pandemic include Swindon and Oxford.

Paul Britton, Chief Executive at Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce

“The Good Growth for Cites Index is – once again – a clear, independent and unequivocal statement of the continued strength of the Thames Valley economy and its importance to UK plc.  It’s great to see Oxford and Reading retain their top placings in the Index and the equally strong performance of the LEP’s across our region.

There is an imperative for government and business to work together to tackle both the long-standing inequalities that the pandemic has highlighted, as well as the new divisions that have emerged and are outlined in the Report.

For our Thames Valley towns, we believe a sector and cross-regional place-based approach to recovery is needed. Whilst the pandemic has possibly reinforced the need to ‘level up’ across the UK, it has also revealed the need to look beyond regional headlines of the North-South divide and focus efforts with more precision on specific issues and how the strengths of places – like the Thames Valley – can provide the springboard for wider economic and productivity growth”.

More generally, Paul continues,

“The report is an endorsement of the Chamber’s own priorities, outlined in our Business Manifesto (2021), and programme which includes the Windsor Debates which will be focused on showcasing examples driving a green, more sustainable and technology driven recovery”.