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Research - 10/01/2018

UK Vitality Index 2018

Cambridge remains top of the league for growth prospects

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For a third successive year, the world renowned university city of Cambridge is the top-ranked UK location for economic prospects over the next 12 months.

Our UK Vitality Index for 2018, published today, reveals that Cambridge is performing strongly across a broad range of economic indicators.

Numbers crunched: 66 towns and cities assessed

The LSH Vitality Index assesses the UK’s 66 largest towns and cities outside London to identify which are best positioned for growth and provide the greatest opportunities for businesses expansion. The results are based on the analysis of 20 datasets, with each location ranked within six separate sub-indices: most productive, fastest growing, most entrepreneurial, best educated, greenest and rising affluence.

Cambridge maintains grip on top spot

In addition to being home to the UK’s top-ranked university, Cambridge’s position at the top is underpinned by its highly qualified workforce and strong growth in the local economy and property market. Transport issues have arguably been a limit to Cambridge’s full potential, although key improvements are being made which will facilitate further growth. The new Cambridge North railway station opened in May, while there is a proposal for a new light rail service across the city.”

Now in its fifth edition, 2018 was also something of an ‘Oxbridge year’ for the Vitality Index, with Oxford climbing three places from 2017 into second place behind Cambridge. The city of dreaming spires replaced Milton Keynes as top-ranked location in the most productive category.  

Manchester leads improvement in Northern Powerhouse

While Cambridge’s grip on top spot has held firm, there was considerable movement elsewhere within the top 10. This was particularly true of Manchester, which climbed sharply from ninth position last year to third in 2018. Its workforce has seen wages increase 8% over the last two years compared to the UK average of 4%, and has one of the highest number of new businesses per capita. Manchester also led a tangible improvement across the Northern Powerhouse, with Leeds, Sheffield and Liverpool’s rankings all improving upon last year.

Overall, the top 10 towns and cities in the UK Vitality Index 2018 are:

1. Cambridge
2. Oxford
3. Manchester
4. Brighton & Hove
5. Edinburgh
6. Guildford
7. Bristol
8. Reading
9. Milton Keynes
10. St Albans

Isabel Watterson, senior analyst at LSH, said: “While Cambridge has stolen the headlines again, the most striking result this year is the meteoric rise of Manchester. The unofficial capital of the Northern powerhouse is really cementing its position as the UK’s second city, boasting a growing reputation as a hotbed for creative talent and new businesses..”

She added: “Interestingly, the two most improved cities are both located in the East Midlands, namely Leicester and Nottingham.  While not featuring in the top 10, Leicester climbed a massive 22 places, thanks in large part to an improvement in its environmental performance, while Nottingham climbed 16 places driven by an improvement in a number of metrics including wage growth, economic output and university ranking.”


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