Belfast Telegraph

Belfast tumbles down UK's list of best places to live and work


By John Mulgrew

Belfast has slipped significantly down a list of the UK's top cities to live and work - dropping from fifth to 30th place in just two years.

The latest PwC Good Growth for Cities index ranks cities on a combination of economic performance and quality of life.

And while Belfast was named fifth among the so-called 'devolved' cities, which include Scottish and Welsh locations, it has now fallen down the table of cities across the UK overall.

And while Belfast has enjoyed strong job creation, cities in England performed better and enjoyed faster recovery in what PwC said were "key economic and social areas including new business formation, employment growth and improved incomes".

"The fall in Belfast's performance in both the devolved nations and the overall UK rankings reflected Belfast's slower than average employment recovery, the UK's highest economic inactivity and the lack of real growth in regional wages," it said.

Meanwhile, Derry is the lowest ranked devolved city, scoring below average in the majority of the variables, according to the report.

However, "the city's score for job creation was slightly ahead of generally higher performing devolved cities like Cardiff, Sterling, Perth and even Belfast", it said.

"Overall, the results for Londonderry are more positive than in 2013-2015, largely due to improvements in jobs and income.

"However, its position on the border with the Republic of Ireland means a significant number of the city's 'working population' commute into the region from the Republic."

According to the report, England and Scotland have outperformed Wales and Northern Ireland throughout almost the entire period since 2005-07.

Paul Terrington, PwC's Northern Ireland regional chairman, said the challenge for Northern Ireland is to "learn the lessons" of faster-growing cities.

"We've seen broad-based improvements in our Good Growth index across the UK, driven in particularly by falling unemployment rates.

"However, the Good Growth index also sends a clear message to government and city leaders that there's more to prosperity and growth than GDP."

Mr Terrington added: "Some areas in the North and Midlands where recovery from the financial crisis had seemingly lagged are now showing clear improvements in their index scores and the relatively recent combined authorities and 'city-deal' areas are catching up fast.

"In Northern Ireland, the challenge is to learn the lessons of these fast-improving English regions and get the balance right between investment and reform and maintain a clear focus on driving improved productivity and economic growth while delivering public services efficiently. 

"It's also clear that Brexit will have a profound impact on Northern Ireland and the challenges facing Londonderry and the north west are particularly acute. The lack of an Executive for the better part of this year has not helped that situation." 

Oxford, Reading and Southampton came out as the top three performing cities in the UK.

Belfast Telegraph

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