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East Midlands Chamber News

Midlands performs in 'Good Growth for Cities' index

Rising employment in the region and a return to growth in real earnings have helped boost the performance of the Midlands, according to the latest 2015 Good Growth for Cities index, with most Midlands cities performing well - particularly in health, transport and environment.

Published today [5 November 2015] the fourth annual Good Growth for Cities index, produced by PwC and think-tank Demos, measures the performance of 39 UK cities against ten categories defined by the public and business as key to economic success and personal and family wellbeing.

Moving beyond a simple measure of GDP, the ten factors include jobs, health, income and skills, work-life balance, house-affordability, travel-to-work times, income equality and pollution.

Of the cities included in the index - Birmingham, Coventry, Leicester, Nottingham, Stoke-on-Trent and Milton Keynes & Aylesbury – five out of six are around or above the UK average, with all cities in the Midlands performing well on health, transport and environment.

Scores for all Midlands cities in the index have seen a modest improvement on the 2014 outcomes as the effects of economic recovery are felt across the region, with the jobs category seeing the largest improvement across the board.

Leicester has moved up from 2014 to be the highest ranking (9) Midlands city, although still lags behind the UK average on work-life-balance. Coventry (10) is the only city in the region to have an average or above average score on each of the index’s performance measures. Stoke (19) and Nottingham (21) are close behind with only one measure each falling below average.

Paul NorburyPaul Norbury, Office Senior Manager at PwC in the East Midlands said: “The Good Growth index sends a clear message to city leaders that there’s more to life than GDP. Growing the Midlands economy and creating sustainable employment relies on a vibrant and confident private sector investing in cities and regions offering high-level skills, competitive operating costs and a world-class infrastructure that attracts and retains workers and their families.

“The challenge in achieving good growth in the region is to get the balance right between investment and reform and maintain a clear focus on driving economic growth and delivering better value public services.

“There is no silver bullet to delivering good growth, but in this new era of decentralisation and regional opportunity, doing nothing is not an option.”

The index also rated the 11 LEPs within the Midlands, finding Worcestershire, and Coventry and Warwickshire particularly strong performers, ranking third and tenth in the UK respectively. Coventry and Warwickshire has scores at, or above, the UK average for all of the categories.

With employment in the region finally picking up, jobs was the common component which saw the largest improvement from last year for most of the LEPs. However, the majority of the region is at or below average for income and skills. For five of the eleven LEPs, the component which deteriorated the most from last year was related to housing, either owner occupation or house price to earnings.

Ali Breadon, Head of PwC’s Government and Public Sector team in the Midlands said: “While we have seen some recent improvement in the Midlands, the average index score for 2012-14 remains below that for 2005-07, highlighting the depth and impact of the global financial crisis and the subsequent UK recession.

“Improved employment figures and some growth in real household disposable income were the main drivers of improvement in our 2015 index. However, in some cities in the region, this has impacted on housing affordability, commuting times and work-life balance, offsetting part of the gains from economic recovery in our overall good growth index.”