Swindon & Wiltshire Business News

Swindon one of best places to live and work – report

Swindon Town HallSwindon is one of the best urban areas to live and work in the UK, according to a new survey by auditing firm PwC.

The Good Growth for Cities 2018 index that ranks cities on a combination of economic performance and quality of life.

It places Swindon seventh in the highest ranking urban areas. The town also comes in at number nine in the list of most rapidly improving cities, against its place on the same survey in 2017.

The index attempts to assess the quality of life in cities across Britain beyond traditional economic measures such as GDP.

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 wellbeing.

Factors such as employment levels, skills, housing affordability and travel-to-work times are taken into account – a methodology that pushed London to 15th place.

For the third year running, the two highest performing UK cities on PwC’s Good Growth for Cities 2018 index were Swindon's local rivals Oxford and Reading.

John Hawksworth, chief economist at PwC, said: “Almost all UK cities have seen improved good growth scores in recent years, driven primarily by cyclical falls in unemployment rates that have now rippled out from the South East of England to regions like the North East that were previously lagging behind.

“But the more interesting perspective is provided when we look at the whole decade from 2005-7 to 2015-17, which covers a full economic cycle and therefore allows us to identify deeper structural trends.

"The good news here is that successive cohorts of young workers have higher average skill levels, which is pushing up index scores together with rising rates of new business creation in most cities.

"The flip side of this success has been worsening housing affordability and consequent falls in home ownership rates precisely for those young people who have invested in acquiring new skills.

"As they are pushed further from city centres to afford a place to buy or even rent, average commuting times have also risen.

"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.”

Paul Britton, CEO at the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce said: "We are really pleased to see Swindon placed within the Top 10 – a position that can only be strengthened by projects like the Western Rail Link to London Heathrow and Crossrail, bringing Swindon within the magic one-hour of the airport."