Good growth for cities: time to take the long view

by Jonathan House Devolved and Local Government Leader

Email +44 (0)7791 114 593

Against an uncertain economic and political landscape, the places where we live and work are more important than ever. But too often, the success of a place is defined too narrowly, with a focus on the GDP or GVA headlines. This week we’ve launched our annual Good Growth for Cities report measuring the performance of the UK’s cities and Local Enterprise Partnerships against a basket of ten indicators that matter most to the public.

The two highest performing cities in the 2018 index are Oxford and Reading, with Oxford maintaining its narrow lead at the top. This reflects continued improvement across a range of measures in both cities, particularly income and transport.

Some of the cities with low overall scores have seen some of the biggest increases recently, including Middlesbrough & Stockton, Liverpool and Wakefield & Castleford. Much of this reflects the way that falls in unemployment rates have rippled out to all parts of the UK, alongside a sustained local leadership focus on driving improvements.

A decade on from the financial crisis, this year’s Good Growth report also reveals the longer term structural factors driving the performance of cities. While declining unemployment rates have been driving improvements in the short term, the ten year data shows that it is improving skills levels, particularly for younger people, and new business formation that has been key to good growth in longer term.  However, housing affordability, owner occupation rates and commuting times have deteriorated over the same period, suggesting an urgent need to invest in housing and transport infrastructure.

It is this long term view that place leaders should have in mind as they develop their Local Industrial Strategies.  Whether you’re a council leader, mayor or LEP chair, place leaders need to be able to tell the story of their city in a way that resonates on the doorstep and on the world stage, for today and for the future.

Our report explores the implications for cities seeking to deliver good growth, focusing on three broad areas:

  • Using Local Industrial Strategies as a catalyst for collaboration to develop a shared and credible economic vision and plan
  • Developing a strong evidence base and be ‘investor ready’ to secure future funding, both from the public and private sector, nationally and globally
  • Focusing on achieving ‘inclusive growth’, particularly around skills and education, housing and transport infrastructure, and health and wellbeing.

With the UK at a crossroads, it is vital that place leaders take the opportunity to reconsider their economic strategies, their place in the global economy and their role in delivering an economy that works for all and a fairer future for people living across the UK.

Download the full report and explore our data modeller at   


by Jonathan House Devolved and Local Government Leader

Email +44 (0)7791 114 593