Reading stays on course for economic growth

C4C2017coverThe annual barometer of the economic performance of the UK’s top cities continues to rank Reading as one of the most dynamic for business growth, skills and wages in the country.

Cities Outlook 2017, produced by Centre for Cities, yet again ranks Reading in second place to only London for the economic contribution per worker (GVA¹), average workplace wages and the number of businesses per capitate. We also perform strongly for innovation, business start-ups, employment levels and qualifications.

However, the report also reinforces some of the challenges of a strong economy – with Reading 4th least equal city in the UK (after Oxford, Cambridge and London). Rising house prices and housing affordability are cited as part of the issue.     

The Cities Outlook report is the annual health-check of the economic performance of the United Kingdom’s 63 largest cities. The report defines Reading as the Greater Reading area² and includes statistics about the levels of innovation, levels of employment, earnings and skill levels in the workforce as well as housing, population and the environment.

The report also looks at the future of the economy, focusing on the export capabilities of the core cities – most especially in a post-EU Britain. Reading is named as one of the top twelve for exports per job and productivity, putting it in a good position to maintain an economic lead come Brexit. In addition it has one of the smallest shares of exports to the EU (however that still accounts for a substantial 40%) - and strong exports to China, USA and Africa.   

Nigel Horton-Baker, Executive Director, Reading UK CIC, the economic development company for Reading, said: “The Centre for Cities report once again reinforces what we know to be strong levels of performance in the local economy. We are proud of the contribution Reading makes to the national economy, and to be recognised as a key location for business and investment, especially given our potential to be a leading post-Brexit economy.  

“The challenges for Reading remain, however, in particular with regard to the inequality in some parts of our community. That’s why we are working with business and public sector partners to make sure more of our residents will benefit from the Reading economic success story.  

“A great example of this is our recently completed three year City Deal with central government, which helped us deliver nearly 100 apprenticeships, full time work for 340 and employment support for over a thousand young people.” 

Cllr Jo Lovelock, Leader of Reading Borough Council, said: “Whilst we are obviously pleased the latest Centre for Cities reports shows Reading continues to perform well economically, the Council also very aware that there continue to be issues with the widening poverty gap in the town. The report shows Reading is by no means alone in the south east when it comes to inequality and major issues like the lack of affordable housing in the town continues to be high on the Council’s agenda.”  

City Outlook data 2017 (Centre for Cities) – where Reading features in the top 10 (2016 figures shown in brackets)





Productivity (GVA) per worker                              

2 (2)


Business startups and closures(per10,000 pop.)

5 (4)

75.4 / 46.3 (6.3% churn)


Number of businesses (per 10,000 pop.)

2 (2)

464 (increase of 5.2% on 441 last year)

Innovation (no of patents granted per 10,000 pop)

10 (21)


Unemployment rate


6 (6)

1.1% JSA claimant count

Private Sector Job Growth

9 (17)

140,100 (gain of 5,200)

Private/ public sector jobs ratio

9 (8)

140,134 vs 41,724 (3.4%)


6 (5)

47.1% educated to NVQ4 or above ( degree level)

No formal qualifications

6 (4)

4.8% with no formal qualifications



2 (4)

£634 per week

(incrs £12)

Housing price growth

6 (5)

£375,200 average house price

Housing affordability

7 (8)

11.3 x average salary of £33,300

Export per job


8 (-)

£21,360 per job

£3,740m total

Export of services


5 (-)

£11,460 per job

£1,980m total

More information on the 2017 report at

¹ GVA is Gross Value Added - a measure of the value of goods and services produced in an area.

² Reading is defined as the primary urban area of Reading and Wokingham.






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