Norwich and Ipswich make it into top city rankings

Ipswich Waterfront on a sunny March afternoon

Ipswich made it into the PwC cities index for the first time - and made it into the top 20 - Credit: Suzanne Day

Ipswich and Norwich rank among the UK’s top 20 best performing cities, according to an index compiled by accountancy giant PwC and cross-party think-tank Demos.

Norwich city centre

Norwich was ranked sixth in the Good Growth for Cities Index - Credit: Antony Kelly

The Good Growth for Cities Index – launched in 2012 and updated annually – covers 12 key measures of economic wellbeing from jobs, income, health, skills and work-life balance to housing affordability, transport and the environment. It ranks 50 of the UK’s largest cities – generally with populations of at least 350k people.  

Norwich was ranked sixth, with Oxford taking the top spot. Ipswich – ranked for the first time since the index began – achieved 17th place, while Cambridge was in 20th position and Chelmsford achieved a 33rd placing.

At the same time, the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) area was ranked 20th overall out of 38 English LEP areas according to the index’s performance measures.

For the first time, the index included two new indicators – safety and high street and shops.

Ipswich scored above average for health, owner occupation, transport and safety while Norwich was above average for health, work-life balance, transport, income distribution and safety.

Ipswich was deemed below average for work-life balance, new businesses, house price to earnings, skills and its high streets. Norwich was found to be below average on new businesses and high streets.

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Both achieved average rankings in the other categories.

Provincial cities are expected to show stronger economic growth than those that are larger and more metropolitan, said PwC, and there is an increased focus from the public on wellbeing, the environment and income distribution.

Simon De Young, Cambridge market senior partner at PwC said: “It’s encouraging to see so many of the cities in our region performing well in the index, particularly in terms of jobs and incomes. When we look at the difference between areas like Norwich and Southend, it is clear to see the inequalities that local leaders and businesses need to work together to address.

“The report sets out a series of recommendations for policymakers and business to deliver investments in a sustainable and fair way. Each city has its strengths and it is important we look at their individual needs. 

“As we can see, Norwich has seen the highest increase in skills for youth in this year’s index, whereas Cambridge performed very well in jobs, income and health. In Ipswich, work-life balance and new businesses are on the rise, and Southend has seen improvements for skills for adults.
“While there is always room for improvement in any city, I’m confident that the East of England will be positioned well for a strong recovery from the pandemic and a future of levelling up.”

All cities listed under the East of England region scored below average for house price to earnings, except Norwich.

The East and South East cities rankings were:

Oxford - 1st

Reading - 4th

Norwich - 6th

High Wycombe and Aylesbury - 9th

Southampton - 10th

Brighton - 12th

Luton - 16th

Ipswich - 17th

Cambridge - 20th

Chelmsford - 33rd

Medway - 40th

Southend - 43rd