Southampton is among the top three places to live and work, according to an index of UK cities, and the city’s growth means it’s challenging the traditional top two cities, Oxford and Reading.
The Good Growth for Cities Index, run by PwC, measures the performance of 42 of the UK's largest towns and cities. The index aims to show there is more to life, work and general well-being than simply measuring GDP.
According to PwC, “Southampton is gaining ground and beginning to close the gap between the top two cities and the rest of the index because of an increase in the number of new business startups in Southampton compared to last year’s report.”
Southampton's overall growth index has improved tremendously and in the last few years it has grown from 0.43 in 2013 to 0.82 in 2017, putting it in the top three cities for growth in the UK.
The 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 well-being. 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.
Southampton has seen a vast improvement in eight of the 12 indicators to compare against other cities since 2015. Improvements in environment, skills, owner occupation, new businesses, heath and jobs are the standout indicators showing improvement.
Which places make it into the top 10?
The latest research findings come a few weeks after Southampton was named as a growing high-tech digital destination, coming fifth in the rankings of the world’s super clusters. This is higher than Cambridge, Bristol and Cologne. The report by estate advisors CBRE - EMEA Tech Cities: Opportunities in Technology Hotspots ranks Southampton number five in the medium-sized business category, showing that high-tec employment continues to grow above the UK national average.
Tim Keeping, Chairman of Go! Southampton, the city’s Business Improvement District, which is funded by more than 600 businesses in the city centre, said: “It’s not just our football club that’s in the premier league. Southampton’s thriving maritime, retail, restaurant, academic research and educational sectors are contributing to our standing amongst the top UK cities.”
Gary Jeffries, Chairman of Solent LEP said: “Southampton is quietly creating ripples in the digital world. Although having an economy based on a maritime sector is where it had made its name, the city is also now home to a growing tech cluster.”
James Gough, Director of Southampton’s Cultural Development Trust, said: “It is a exciting time in Southampton, with a recognition that the city’s heritage and culture are key drivers for the development of city pride and economic growth. A number of strong partnership projects are underway that look to ensure that collectively the city maximises the social and economic value of its strong cultural sector, it looks like the city is well on its way to experiencing a resurgence.”
Ed Gould, Creative Director of Carswell Gould, which helps to run the fast growing innovation network Venturefest South, said: “The way in which the city, its people and its business are working together is creating a unique and stimulating environment, where new ideas and startups are flourishing. These figures from PwC show that Southampton is a rapidly improving city with a lot to offer.”