Most cities in the Midlands are performing above the UK average, according to the latest 2016 Good Growth for Cities Index, produced by PwC and the think-tank, Demos. The fifth annual Good Growth index measures the performance of 42 of the UK’s largest cities, England’s Local Enterprise Partnerships LEPs  and the new Combined Authorities against a basket of categories defined by the public and business as key to local socio-economic success.

Moving beyond a simple measure of gross value-added (GVA), the 10 factors comprising the index include jobs, health, income and skills, work-life balance, house-affordability, travel-to-work times, income equality and pollution, as well as business start-ups (new this year).

The 2016 report says that as a whole, the eight cities in the Midlands (Table 1) included in the Good Growth index are performing well on:

  • Jobs, where half of the cities are above UK average level.
  • Health and new businesses per head, where almost half of the cities in the region are above average, and the rest at the UK average level.
  • Transport and environment, where all cities in the Midlands score around the UK average, or above in the cases of Coventry and Milton Keynes respectively.

The index also reveals that Leicester, Coventry and Nottingham are all performing at or above the UK average on all measures. Stoke and Derby are close behind with only one measure each falling below average.

Milton Keynes is the best performing city within the region, ranking 7th overall in the UK. It also has the most wide-ranging score profile. It is above average for jobs, income, health, new businesses, owner occupation and environment but below average on elements such as work-life balance, housing affordability and income distribution, suggesting that the city is facing the ‘price of success’ dilemma.

When compared with the index produced in 2015, the category with the largest improvement in score is jobs for the majority of Midlands’s cities. These improvements are in line with the national trend as the economy recovered significantly between 2012 and 2015. Across the region, the areas that have seen the biggest score reductions are owner occupation and work-lifebalance.

Commenting on the performance of cities in the Midlands, Matthew Hammond, regional chairman for PwC in the Midlands, said:

"Our Good Growth for Cities Index comes on the heels of our European Real Estate report and both make encouraging reading for the Midlands region.  

"Birmingham remains the most investable city for real estate in the UK ahead of Manchester, Edinburgh and London and as the 'capital' of the Midlands remains the first choice destination for those relocating out of London.  The investments in infrastructure including rail, metro trams and HS2 combined with high levels of commercial and residential development activity across the city are making a dramatic difference to the look, feel and welcome the city provides to visitors.  Our reputation, image and profile beyond the boundaries of our region is changing and for the better.

"The West Midlands Combined Authority area fares favourably in our Good Growth report too, sitting third in the UK, a springboard for the advent of an elected Mayor in 2017 to take the Region further forward.  

"The eight Midlands cities we report on are showing positive and largely above average indicators in jobs growth, new businesses per capita, transport and ease of movement, health measures, and the environment itself.  The ingredients for quality of life as set out in our report highlight the Midlands and its cities as a more liveable, workable, investable places, particularly compared with the South East.  This evidence gives the region a domestic and internationally competitive edge which we have seen with a number of recent investment announcements.  

"The challenge in 2017 and beyond will be for our public, civic, business, education and leaders across our industries to work together to improve deliver wider economic, employment and skills dividends across the wider Midlands population."