Revealed: The UK’s top 10 cities for economic growth

According to the 2019 Vitality Index by Lambert Smith Hampton, Edinburgh is the city with the best prospects for UK economic growth, with Cambridge and Manchester coming in second and third place, despite the UK’s uncertain economic and political environment.

Compiled every year, The Vitality Index provides a comprehensive assessment of the health of UK towns and cities, considering education, entrepreneurialism, affluence, productivity, growth and environmental factors.

Identifying the best destinations to support future economic growth and provide opportunities for business expansion, the top ten rankings for 2019 are as follows:

  1. Edinburgh

  2. Cambridge

  3. Manchester

  4. Brighton & Hove

  5. Oxford

  6. Bristol

  7. Reading

  8. Guildford

  9. Cardiff

  10. Colchester

Climbing from 2018 position number five, Edinburgh has risen to the top of the ranking, knocking Cambridge off the top spot for the first time since 2016. The city has seen one of the highest rates of house price growth of any location, alongside strong wage growth. The only Scottish location in the top 10, Edinburgh has a highly qualified population and is forecast to see one of the strongest rates of job growth over the next five years.

Followed by Cambridge at second place, the city has retained its first place as the most highly educated, being home to the UK’s top-ranked university and one of the highest proportions of residents qualified to a degree level or above.

Manchester remains in position number three and is the sole Northern location to rank within the top ten, seeing strong growth in both population and commercial property rents. As one of the fastest-growing locations, the city has shown a robust GVA growth in the UK as well being one of the most entrepreneurial cities of the year.

The South East region currently dominate with four locations featuring in the top ten. Brighton comes in fourth place, holding the top spot for growth in commercial property rents. While Oxford and Guildford both fell slightly in the ranking from last year, they remain in the top 10 with Oxford showing the fastest rate of workforce job growth forecast over the next five years. Elsewhere, Reading takes seventh position, having seen a substantial improvement in wage growth.

Although still dominated by the South East of England, the Welsh capital Cardiff feature in the top ten for the first time, at position number nine, due to increasing house prices and strong job growth. The city has been forecasted to see job growth of 6% over the next five years, the strongest of all the locations.

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Colchester also featured in the Index’s top ten for the first time, due to its rates of job growth and the city’s ambitious growth plans, which include a £3bn transformation project. The Essex town is forecast to see one of the fastest rates of job growth over the next five years and has recently witnessed sizeable increase in commercial property rents.

Izzy Watterson, Senior Analyst at LSH and author of the report, said: Understandably, Brexit is commanding the nation’s attention and there is a great deal of uncertainty as to how things will unfold. Consequently, it is very reassuring to see that the economic health of the nation’s major towns and cities has improved since last year and the top ten locations should prove among the most economically-resilient locations of 2019.” 

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