Lambert Smith Hampton has produced The Vitality Index, which is research into the 20 datasets that relate to the different aspects of a town or city’s economy to identify what sets them apart.
By analysing the UK’s largest towns and cities outside London through a mix of demographics, educational attainment, business activity levels, economic output, affluence, sustainability and commercial property data, it is possible to compile a rounded view of the health of a location.
The top 10 have been identified as: Cambridge, Brighton, Oxford, Reading, Guildford, Bristol, St Albans, Manchester, Edinburgh and Milton Keynes.
Whilst it is disappointing that no Welsh town or city featured, it is helpful to drill down and see how wide the gap is in certain key indicators.
A typical top 10 location has 1.1% of residents claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance compared to 2% in Swansea. In 2015, average earnings were £568 per week with Swansea employees averaging £485.
Perhaps the widest gap however is Gross Value Added (GVA) per head, which in a top 10 location stood at £36k compared to just over £18k in Swansea.
So what will need to change for that gap to close?
Looking at what has helped other regions, it is clear that they have benefited from the focus on town and city centre regeneration, commercially and residentially along with efforts to improve infrastructure and transport links.
Partnership matters too. SA1 in Swansea is a good example of what is possible, regenerating an area which is now established as a commercial, residential and leisure destination.
Looking ahead, it has helped link the waterfront to the city and onwards to the Gower coast which continues to grow as a draw for tourists and visitors.
Undoubtedly there are challenges for our region but there are opportunities too.
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