There is much more to a city than its economic performance. The most successful cities offer far more than just a headline GVA figure – everything from transport options, to educational institutions to cultural spaces and more go into the mix.
The annual Good Growth for Cities Index by Demos-PwC highlights these factors, using the 10 indicators which the public thinks are most important when it comes to cities to rank the best places in the UK to live and work.
In a time when we are unsure what the final economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic will be, it is more vital than ever to understand the factors which attract people to cities in the first place. By considering jobs, health, housing, income, skills, transport, income distribution, work-life balance, the environment and business start-ups, we can measure which cities and regions are the most resilient and likely to prosper far into the future.
Unsurprisingly, the North West of England performed extremely strongly. According to the Good Growth for Cities Index, Manchester has weathered the storm extremely well and is on course to see economic growth of more than 5% over 2021. Combine that with everything we already know about Manchester – its world class cultural offering, its rapidly growing business sector, its global reputation as an educational hub, and much more – and it is clear that the city is set to continue its journey to becoming a true 21st century global hub. Manchester’s ‘Good Growth’ score of 0.46 backs this up, putting it ahead of other important cities including Liverpool and Birmingham.
Performing even more strongly than that is the city of Preston which was declared the best city to live and work in the North West according to the same index. Despite being relatively new to city status compared to nearby places like Manchester, Salford and Liverpool, Preston is the site of huge investment and major regeneration projects worth hundreds of millions of pounds.
Impressive transport links – including an upcoming HS2 station – and a reputation for excellence in education which draws in students from around the world both contribute to the feeling of excitement which fills the city. Businesses love Preston and the population is growing fast as more and more people catch win of the outstanding lifestyle on offer in the city.
For the fourth year in a row, Preston has been named the best city in the region by Demos-PwC, and as the 16th best in the whole UK, with particular strengths in employment, work-life balance and housing costs to earnings ratio.
Councillor Matthew Brown, leader of Preston City Council, says: “I am delighted that Preston has maintained its position as the best city to live and work in the North West. This report also shows that our city has pulled together to endure the pandemic and gives me great optimism that we will be in a strong position to recover and grow.”
Preston’s ongoing success also makes it a UK buy to let property hotspot. The North West as a whole is leading the country in house price growth, and Preston is central to that. It’s relatively low entry prices, growing population and limited high-end housing stock in the city centre make it perfect for investors.