Oxford again named as top UK city for economy and wellbeing

Published: Monday, 5th November 2018

Oxford has been named as the top UK city for economic success and wellbeing of the community for the third year in a row.

The Demos-PwC Good Growth for Cities 2018 report was created in 2008 as a response to the growing sense that people needed more from their leaders than an improvement in gross domestic product.

It measures the performance of UK cities against a range of indicators, including employment, health, income, skills, housing affordability, owner occupation, transport, environmental factors, income inequality, and new business start-ups.

Oxford ranked as the top city in the UK with an index score of 1.03 – beating its 2017 index score of 1.02. The city scored highest in the indicators for income (2.78), skills of those aged 25+ (2.47), jobs (2.21), health (1.92) and new businesses (1.35).

Oxford only received negative scores in the indicators for house price to earnings (-2.33), work-life-balance (-1.46) and transport (-0.66). The Oxfordshire Growth Board has prioritised tackling the high cost of housing and lack of transport infrastructure in its discussions with Government about Growth Deal funding.

Demos-PwC specifically highlights the creation of Local Industrial Strategies as a reason for high scores in this year’s report, saying that successful cities “use Local Industrial Strategies as a catalyst for collaboration to develop a shared and credible vision and plan”. The Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership is currently creating one of the first Local Industrial Strategies in the country.

Last year’s report highlighted the importance of cities creating future visions to shape their communities to achieve inclusive economic growth and high-quality environments. The report was released the same week as Oxford City Council launched a public consultation on the creation of Oxford2050, its statement for how the city should look and feel in 32 years’ time.

Reading again came second in the index with a score of 0.99 (an increase from 0.97 in 2017). There continues to be a “significant gap”, Demos-PwC said, between Oxford and Reading’s score and the third-placed city, Southampton, which had a score of 0.82.

Demos-PwC said Oxford and Reading’s continued strong performance “reflects continued improvement across a range of measures in each of these cities, particularly income and transport. Both cities also perform strongly on our measures of jobs and health.”

The index also compares Local Enterprise Partnerships across the country, and Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership is again the highest scoring.

Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council, said: “It shouldn’t come as any surprise to people that live here that Oxford is once again found to be a great place to both live and work. Our strong economy and the great opportunities our city offers for the general wellbeing of most people who live here is well known. However, this is not yet everyone’s experience of our city and so a big part of the City Council’s mission is to build a world class city for everyone. That means working to develop new social housing that people can afford and helping to address inequalities in health and life expectancy across Oxford. And, particularly in Living Wage Week, it also means encouraging employers to adopt the Oxford Living Wage, to ensure a decent minimum level of pay to enable people to live fulfilling lives here.”

Jeremy Long, Chairperson of Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “We have found that formal and informal collaboration with partners from across the Oxford-Cambridge corridor is allowing us to identify new opportunities for each area and the region as a whole. Our economic vision will help us to clearly articulate the potential that this corridor has locally and for the UK as a whole.”

To read the Good Growth for Cities 2018, please visit PwC’s website.