Reading tops UK Growth Index with Oxford

Skills and new businesses drive decade of growth as Reading in UK top 2 for growth league for third year running

For the third year running, the two highest performing UK cities on the Good Growth for Cities 2018 index are Oxford and Reading, reflecting improvements particularly in income levels in the latest reporting period.

PwCGG cover8The most recent results also show a continuing gap between Oxford and Reading and the rest of the index. Reflecting continued improvement across  jobs, income, health and skills in each of these cities.

Published 1 November 2018, the seventh annual Good Growth for Cities 2018 index sets out to show that there’s more to life, work and general well-being than just measuring 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.

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.

The latest Index analyses a decade of economic and social data to determine what long-term factors drive Good Growth. PwC analysis shows that the average city in our index has improved its good growth score significantly over 10 years from 2005-7 to 2015-17, and has now more than recovered from the recession and downturn triggered by the global financial crisis.

John Ellis, PwC Senior Partner, Reading commented: “I am pleased to see that Reading has maintained its position as among the UK’s highest ranking cities. This reflects continued improvement across a range of measures, including jobs, income, skills, health scores and growth driven by technology focused businesses."

The top 10 highest ranked cities in our latest index, which relates to the period 2015-17, and the most improved since last year’s index were:


Highest ranking cities

Top 10 improvers




Middlesbrough & Stockton



Milton Keynes

Milton Keynes




Wakefield & Castleford









Source: PwC analysis

Price of success growing bigger

However, the “price of success” has also become increasingly evident recently as we see declining scores since last year’s index for transport, owner occupation rates and particularly housing affordability, which highlights some of the ongoing challenges faced by UK cities.

About the Good Growth for Cities report

A copy of the Demos-PwC Good Growth for Cities index 2017 can be downloaded from


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