Preston is the best city in north-west England in which to live and work, according to a report.
The Lancashire city beat Manchester and Liverpool in an annual assessment of the UK’s largest cities that measures economic success and personal and family wellbeing.
Preston became the highest performing city in the north-west by scoring relatively highly compared with the UK average across all measures except for income.
The city ranked 19th overall in the 2016 Good Growth for Cities index, which measures the performance of 42 UK cities against 10 categories including jobs, income, work-life balance, transport, skills, environment and the house price to earnings ratio.
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The highest ranking cities were Oxford, Reading, Edinburgh, Southampton and Bristol. The lowest ranking were Doncaster, Wakefield and Castleford, Swansea, Sunderland, and Middlesbrough and Stockton.
In the index, published by the accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and the thinktank Demos, Preston scored particularly highly for jobs and business startups.
Peter Rankin, the Labour leader of Preston council, said the city was a success story due to its location and cheap housing.
“We are just two hours from London and one hour from the Lakes and Manchester, which puts us in a very good position. We are also building 17,000 new homes and all of this contributes to our success,” he said.
“In the past we have been a bit shy about our achievements, almost under-marketing ourselves. But we are rapidly catching up and we are following in the footsteps of Manchester who are very good at overselling themselves.”
Liverpool performed well in work-life balance, house price to earnings, and income distribution, but placed 37th overall. Greater Manchester ranked 30th, performing more consistently across a range of variables including work-life balance, housing affordability and new businesses.
Northern cities performed better than the UK average in three areas: higher owner occupation, house price to earnings and income distribution. Furthermore, they continued to demonstrate substantial improvement in reducing unemployment levels.
Jonathan House, a partner at PwC, said: “When it comes to jobs and the commitments of business, the northern powerhouse is performing on cue.
“The northern powerhouse network is reporting over 180,000 new jobs in the last 12 months alone and a raft of new business recruits supporting the network and its objectives.”
However, the report showed cities in the north-east were still struggling, with Newcastle 31st, Sunderland second last and Middlesbrough in last place.
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Newcastle scored highly for work-life balance, the environment and its house price-to-earnings ratio, though it was still in the bottom group nationally for health and income. Sunderland performed well in income distribution and house price to earnings, but was in the bottom group in a range of areas including skills, health, jobs and number of new businesses. Middlesbrough fared badly for income, jobs and the environment but was well rated for its transport links.
Stephanie Hyde, a PwC executive board member, called on the government to support devolution, claiming it would further strengthen the economy in the north.
She said: “Devolution is a central part of the answer to unleashing the economic potential of the UK. By giving local leaders the ability to control the levers of good growth, cities can tailor their approach to economic development to their own unique strengths, weaknesses and potential.”
The report’s authors said Brexit could lead to higher unemployment and slower growth in household incomes over the next few years.
John Hawksworth, PwC’s chief economist, said: “All the elements of our Good Growth index could be impacted by Brexit to some degree, although housing, jobs and income may see the largest effects.
“Starting up new businesses, for example, could suffer as a result of increased economic uncertainty. On the other hand, changing trade relations and regulations after Brexit, the shock to the status quo, and the potential opening up of new markets outside the EU could create opportunities for new entrants.”
Source credit - The Guardian