Belfast Telegraph

Belfast better than London for quality of life, says report

By David Elliott

Belfast ranks higher than Manchester, London and Birmingham when it comes to overall quality of life in a list of the UK's biggest cities, according to a new survey.

The 'Good Growth for Cities' report by PwC and Demos found Belfast scored highly when it comes to work-life balance and by having a relatively short average commuting time to work.

It found the UK public places those factors, and others such as health and affordable housing, on a par with jobs and income - a list of priorities which swings in Belfast's favour.

"This report puts Belfast's position as a UK city into context," Dr Esmond Birnie, PwC chief economist in Northern Ireland said. "We may complain about traffic congestion and lower than average wages, but compared to other UK cities and as measured by these broader 'good growth' categories, Belfast compares very favourably with some of the biggest cities in England and Scotland."

PwC said the results of the survey should be used by government to allocate resources better.

"The financial crisis and subsequent downturn has provoked a lot of debate around economic growth and just what good growth looks like, so it's no surprise that the public is now considering other issues as integral to the bigger economic picture," Dr Esmond Birnie added.

"Our findings suggest a good growth measurement approach could, particularly in a time of austerity, help government and local authorities focus their investment and resource allocation on the things that matter most to the public."

The report ranks Belfast 16th out of the 36 cities measured, falling into the 'above average' category and higher that cities like Manchester, Glasgow, Birmingham and even the London Boroughs.

Belfast compares well with cities in other devolved regions of Scotland and Wales, ranking top, in terms of transport (average commuting time to work) and work-life balance (percentage of working population routinely working more than 45 hours per week).

However, the report also notes Belfast ranks less well in terms of property ownership, health (percentage of non working population on long-term sickness) and providing for future generations (percentage of households with long-term savings).