Report finds Birmingham and Coventry two of the fastest improving cities in the UK

01 November 2018

Birmingham and Coventry are amongst the fastest improving cities in UK, according to a new report by accountancy giant PwC.

The firm’s latest ‘Good Growth for Cities’ – which rates cities on various economic performance and quality of life factors – has revealed that Birmingham is the fifth highest performing city in UK, and Coventry the eighth.

The two cities are doing well by attracting new businesses, and various other factors, including health, environment and income distribution.

On the downside is worsening housing affordability, a factor affecting all Midlands cities. Birmingham also suffers from a below average rating for house price to earnings.

The ‘Good Growth for Cities’ index measures the performance of 42 of the UK’s largest cities, England’s Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and the nine combined authorities, against a basket of ten indicators based on the views of the public as to what is key to economic success and wellbeing.

These include employment, health, income and skills - the most important factors, as judged by the public - while housing affordability, commuting times, environmental factors and income inequality are also included, as is the number of new business starts.

The latest Index analyses a decade of economic and social data to determine what long-term factors drive ‘Good Growth’, during which Birmingham increased its index score by 0.33 since the 2005-7 index, compared to an average increase of 0.29 for all cities.

This has primarily been driven by an improvement in skills among 25-64 year olds and a strong improvement in new businesses, which is helping to drive increases in jobs and income.

However, the analysis has also highlights areas where cities have deteriorated during the decade, notably reduced housing affordability and owner occupation rates and steep increases in average commuting times.

PwC Midlands region chairman Matthew Hammond (pictured) said: “The growth story for the West Midlands is compelling given the attractiveness of the region nationally and globally.

“I’m delighted to see Birmingham and Coventry recognised amongst the fastest improving and highest performing UK cities across a range of measures, including jobs, income, skills and health scores driven by a growth in new businesses.

“We have seen a decade of continued improvement, above the national average, at a time of significant investment in the region.

“The collaborative approach across the private, public and education sectors has been key, and remains so, to ensuring that the potential of the young population of this region is given opportunity to work in attractive businesses across the Midlands.

“Continuing to attract UK business investment, foreign capital and investment is vital if the Midlands is to make a difference to the next generation and those to come, from the unprecedented opportunities provided by HS2, Metro, Coventry City of Culture, Commonwealth Games 2022, the 5G ‘test bed’ and the related infrastructure investment.

“As compared with other regions of the UK it is particularly pleasing to see the results of the work of all agencies in attracting businesses to the region. Each of the LEP areas across the West Midlands, Black Country, Greater Birmingham & Solihull and Coventry & Warwickshire have materially improved the new businesses growth data in their areas.

“Performance of the combined authorities shows that the West Midlands Combined Authority’s strengths were indicators for work-life balance and new businesses, and its areas for development were income and skills amongst 25-64 year-olds.

“Having largely recovered from the financial crisis, addressing the housing and infrastructure supply constraints that drive these negative trends will be key challenges for the next decade for both central and local government, looking beyond the immediate issues around Brexit.”

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