Pandemic bringing Good Growth benefits to Reading economy

Reading ranks in the UK’s top five cities for good economic growth, according to the latest Demos-PwC Good Growth for Cities Index report.

The Index ranks 50 of the UK’s largest cities based on people’s assessment of 12 key economic wellbeing factors, including jobs, health, income and skills, as well as work-life balance, house affordability, travel-to-work times, income equality, environment and business start-ups. Of the 12 variables included in this year’s index, the biggest driver for improvement for cities over the last three years has been better work-life balance.

GoodGrowth 2022 coverReading ranks 4th with particularly strong performance in income and skills (25+). The report expects stronger future growth in smaller cities such as Reading, largely driven by the rise of hybrid or home-working patterns as well as the preponderance of high growth sectors of the economy.  The report believes that as people spend less time commuting to larger urban cities, a rise in local spending can be expected, boosting the recoveries of smaller, city economies more so than larger cities.

The report expects strong productivity growth for Reading, reporting a rise of nearly 8% in 2021. This is largely due to the high proportion of high-growth sectors in Reading compared to the UK city average. Reading also had the lowest Universal Credit claimant rate in January 2022 (except for Exeter) at 2.7%, down from 4.2% in January 2021.

Nigel Horton-Baker, Executive Director, Reading UK, said: “Reading has bounced back quickly from the impacts of the pandemic and is showing strong signs of growth just months after the most recent and hopefully final upsurge in COVID numbers. It is heartening to see the rising number of employment opportunities which underlines the confidence and quick recovery of Reading businesses.

“Overall, the fact that Reading has an amazing array of high-growth businesses stands us in good stead and, as the report highlights, changing working practices in search of a better work-life balance may mean fewer commuter trips to London for Reading residents. This trend will provide benefit to the Reading economy and with Reading Borough Council and our industry, education and training partners we will be planning how we can help  people in Reading access jobs locally and gain more time for enjoying Reading and spending in their local economy.”

The other cities in the top five are Oxford, Bournemouth, Swindon and Milton Keynes.

The full Good Growth report is available at 


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