Thursday, 05 November 2021 09:48

Aberdeen and Edinburgh still in top 5 cities in which to live and work

Aberdeen and Edinburgh have ranked in the top five UK cities in which to live and work for a fourth consecutive year according to the latest 2015 Good Growth for Cities index, produced by PwC and think-tank, Demos.

Glasgow continues to slowly move up the rankings – 24th in the index, up from 25th in 2013/14 and 26th in 2012. And when compared to the 10 largest cities outside of London, Scotland’s biggest city is seen to outperform its core city peers of Manchester, Sheffield, Newcastle, Birmingham and Liverpool.

Published today [5 November 2021] the index measures the performance of 39 UK cities against a basket of 10 categories defined by the public and business as key to economic success and personal and family wellbeing.

Aberdeen City Council Leader Jenny Laing said: “I am delighted that Aberdeen, for the fourth year running, has been rated as one of the top five cities in the UK in which to live and work. The findings also show, however, that Aberdeen must look to the future and aim to extend the success of the area beyond the life of North Sea oil. This is something that we have been working towards for some time, through our negotiations with the UK and Scottish governments on a City Region Deal and work to help promote the tourism, food and drink, life sciences and renewable energy sectors.”

Moving beyond a simple measure of GDP, the 10 factors evaluated include jobs, health, income and skills, work-life balance, house-affordability, travel-to-work times, income equality and pollution.

The 2015 report says the scores for the majority of cities have improved on the 2014 outcomes as the effects of economic recovery, in particular rising employment and a return to growth in real earnings, are felt across the UK.

While the high-income, high-skilled and investment-friendly cities in the top five continue to move ahead of others in the index, suggesting that they have not only benefited more from recovery than other UK cities but possess enduring, structural and sustainable features, they are not impervious to the influence of global economic factors.

With the impact of lower oil prices slowly filtering through to the wider North-East business community, Aberdeen has seen its ranking fall from a high of 2nd place in 2013 and 2014 to 5th place.

Paul Brewer, PwC’s government and public sector lead in Scotland said:
“While Aberdeen’s oil wealth has consistently influenced high scores in areas such as jobs, income and skills, the lower for longer oil price backdrop is beginning to chip away at that. It’s vital that Aberdeen future-proofs itself, extending its success beyond the life of North Sea oil exploration.

“As we’ve outlined in our Northern Lights and Opportunities in Adversity reports, there is real potential for the North-east to build on its exceptional skill base and reputation for innovation to create a world class decommissioning hub, or to focus on those transferable skills and encourage investment in other sectors such as renewables, food and drink or technology.

“With net investment in Scotland growing only as a result of the Scottish Government’s infrastructure programme, increased corporate investment will be essential if more jobs are to be created across a more diverse range of sectors in all of our city regions. Our city deals, as they progress into delivery, must act as a catalyst to private sector investment as well as boosting public investment if they are to achieve their objectives.”

Dundee, Inverness, Perth and Stirling performed above average for transport infrastructure and provision, not only in comparison to other devolved cities but the wider UK list.

Skills scored highly in Aberdeen, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness while the two major central belt cities also ranked above average for work life balance. Inverness and Perth also scored highly alongside Aberdeen and Edinburgh for jobs.

Nevertheless, if these cities are to continue to build on their good growth index scores, major challenges including health, pollution, and housing, will need to be addressed at a time when public funds are in short supply.

Paul Brewer, PwC’s government and public sector lead in Scotland, continued:

“Overall, Scottish cities have successfully delivered skills, communications, and employment opportunities with work/life balance. Investors want high-level skills readily accessible, competitive operating costs and strong infrastructure. These are key drivers of investment that can in turn drive up sustainable employment.

“Existing powers over local taxation, the further devolution of powers in The Scotland Act and the emerging new Fiscal Framework together offer an opportunity to focus Scotland’s fiscal regime on delivering on the promise of sustainable growth.”

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