Oxford and Reading top good growth league table

Oxford from South Park, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England, United Kingdom, Europe

Oxford and Reading are the most flourishing places in Britain, with jobs being created, incomes rising and skills being improved.

While the highest-ranked cities in the latest Demos-PwC Good Growth for Cities index are still mostly in the South of England, the Midlands and North of England are steadily narrowing the gap.

The top 10 improvers in the 2017 index include Birmingham, Leeds, Newcastle, Liverpool and Derby, alongside only London and Southampton from the South.

"The UK has been a great job-creating machine in recent years and this has driven improvement in our good growth index this year across all major UK cities," says John Hawksworth, chief economist at PwC.

"But there has also been a price to pay for this in terms of worsening housing affordability, increased average commuting times and more people having to work long hours. The cities that are highest ranked on our index also tend to suffer the highest price of success."

See also: Scottish islands best places to raise a family, says quality of life report

See also: Town centres 'shrinking' following shop closures

The index measures the performance of dozens of areas in terms of employment, health, income and skills - the most important factors, as judged by the public.

Housing affordability, commuting times, environmental factors and income inequality are also included, as is the number of new business starts.

And Oxford and Reading again head the chart - by quite a wide margin - mainly because of jobs, income and skills.

But there's good news across the UK, with all 42 UK cities improving on last year, mainly because of increasing employment.

However, while all 42 cities have improved their year-on-year scores in the overall 2017 index, success comes at a price. We have seen a reduction since last year's report in housing affordability, falling owner occupation rates, rising average commuter times, and minor declines in both the health and work-life balance indicators.

"The economic recovery is now spreading across the country rather than being focused on London and the South East," says Paul Terrington, PwC head of regions.

But, he adds: "If UK cities are to sustain the relatively strong performance of recent years as we move through Brexit and beyond, it will be critical to address these challenges as part of cities' growth strategies, rather than trying to fix the problems later when they become serious constraints on growth."

Highest ranking cities (2017 index)
1. Oxford
2. Reading
3. Southampton
4. Edinburgh
5. Bristol
6. Milton Keynes
7. Cambridge
8. Coventry
9. Leicester
10. Swindon

Top 10 improvers since last year
1. Birmingham
2. Leeds
3. Leicester
4. Newcastle
5. Southampton
6. London
7. Middlesbrough & Stockton
8. Wolverhampton & Walsall
9. Liverpool
10. Derby

11 PHOTOS
Britain's worst places to live, according to ilivehere.co.uk
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Britain's worst places to live, according to ilivehere.co.uk
The least favourite town to live in England has been revealed by ilivehere.co.uk, with the winner being praised for its "chavley splendor". Other places to make the top ten list were described as the "toilet of England," an "excremental town" and "literally hell on earth". Browse the best of Britain's 'crap' towns...
"Go back a few streets from the prom and you will see the deprivation, the ghettos and the scummy pubs that make up the REAL Blackpool," says one ilivehere.co.uk reader.
Streets in the most deprived town in England are described as "graffiti covered, fly-tipped shells of what they once were".
According to one reader, Sunderland is "a pretty sad place, to be honest."
Thinking of visiting this town in Kent? Apparently it's the "festering cat turd in the garden of England".
One ilivehere.co.uk reader says: "Bradford is literally hell on earth. The city centre resembles a squalid cess pit, full of monstrous partially demolished 60’s concrete office blocks, Pound shops, amusement arcades" and more...
Rochdale is an "excremental town," as one reader described it.
Once voted the least romantic place in England, Scunthorpe's best quality is that it "takes about 5 minutes from the town centre to get out of the dump and go to a better place," says one reader.
Described as the "toilet of England," Luton has "3 motorway junctions, 2 railway stations and an airport that can be used for a swift exit".
ilivehere.co.uk described it as the "leviathan of sh*t towns" and one resident agrees, saying: "I was born and bred in Hull and can honestly say you’re bang on with your description. What a f**king dump this place is."
Boasting "chavley splendor," Dover was voted the worst place to live in England by ilivehere.co.uk. But not everyone agrees as l ocal council worker June House, 48, told the Daily Mail: "We're great. We've got the seaside, we've got the castle, we've got the most amazing heritage that you could ever want and it's such a fantastic castle."
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