Ipswich ranked in the top 20 best performing UK cities

Ipswich ranked in the top 20 best performing UK cities

East of England cities are performing well against public priorities for growth according to the latest annual Demos-PwC Good Growth for Cities Index, with Norwich, Luton, Ipswich and Cambridge holding places in the top 20 cities.

The Demos-PwC Good Growth for Cities Index ranks 50 of the UK’s largest cities (generally considered those with populations of at least 350,000 people), plus the London boroughs as a whole, based on the public’s assessment of 12 economic measures, including jobs, health, income, safety and skills, as well as work-life balance, housing, travel-to-work times, income equality, high street shops, environment and business startups.

Most cities in the East of England region of the Index perform above the national average across indicators such as health and owner occupation, with the exception of Chelmsford and Southend. The highest performing city is Norwich, which comes seventh in PwC’s index. The lowest performing city is Southend, ranking 43 out of 50 UK cities.

The Index highlights that Cambridge is performing above the UK average on income, jobs and health, Ipswich and Norwich are performing in line with the UK average on jobs, Luton is performing above average on income and all four cities are performing above average on health.

The East of England is expected to experience future economic growth closely in line with what is expected across the UK on average. In 2023, the region is expected to grow by 0.06%, compared to UK average growth of 0.05%, and in 2024 the region is expected to grow by 1.0%, in line with UK average growth of 1.0%. Despite average growth across the region aligning closely to average UK-wide growth, there is expected to be variation in the growth of different cities in the region.

Luton will experience the strongest growth out of all cities in the East of England. The city is expected to grow by 0.3% in 2023 and 1.1% in 2024, which makes it the second-fastest growing city in the whole of the UK, behind London. Luton’s strong growth is largely driven by the very low concentration of its economic activity within the agriculture, mining, electricity, gas, water and waste industry, which is the industry with the largest contraction in these years.

Norwich will see lower growth than all the other cities in the East of England. It is expected to see negative -0.1% growth in 2023 and positive 0.6% growth in 2023 and 2024 respectively, below the average growth that is seen across the region. This is largely driven by the above-average proportion of its economic activity that is within the public administration and defence sector, which is expected to be the third-worst performing sector in 2023 and 2024.

PwC’s research shows little evidence of the regional disparity gap narrowing overall and argues that progress in levelling-up the UK is too slow. PwC recommends the need for more radical and ambitious devolution of governance and powers to a regional, local and hyper-local level, including greater fiscal flexibility and innovation to help cities respond to their specific challenges.

Simon De Young, Cambridge Market Senior Partner at PwC said:

“It is heartening to see the impressive performance of a number of cities within our region, particularly with regards to employment opportunities and incomes.

“When we compare areas such as Norwich and Southend, the disparities that necessitate collaboration between local leaders and businesses become evident. The report sets out recommendations for policymakers and businesses to facilitate sustainable and equitable investments and, when doing so, it is crucial that we consider the unique requirements of each city.

“For instance, Norwich has seen growth in youth skills based on this year’s Index, whereas Cambridge has excelled in terms of employment, income, and health. Ipswich has experienced a surge in work-life balance and the establishment of new businesses, while Southend has made notable progress in jobs and income.

“While cities across the East of England perform quite differently across the Index due to the individual challenges that each city faces, I am optimistic that the region is well-positioned for growth and a future focused on achieving greater equality.”

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