Edinburgh tops UK cities with most promising growth prospects

20 June 2019 Consultancy.uk 4 min. read
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A new analysis of the UK’s largest cities has uncovered which of the country’s population centres are best positioned to enjoy rapid economic growth in the coming decade. According to the study, Edinburgh is the city leading the way, followed by Cambridge and Manchester.

The multicultural city of London is renowned as a leading city both in the UK economy, and internationally. It hosts some of the most vibrant, innovative and most profitable companies in the world, while boasting a growing number of ties to the world’s other corporate hot-spots. However, while the UK capital might be a global financial hub on par with the likes of New York, London’s infamously high cost of living is pricing future talent out of the market.

As a result, while London retains a reputation for leading in all areas of the UK’s business scene, it is lagging when it comes to fostering new online businesses. Thanks to their lower cost of living, it is easier to set up an online venture quickly in Sheffield and Nottingham in particular, with a survey last year finding the capital languishing in 13th on these grounds.

Edinburgh tops UK cities with most promising growth prospectsNow, another study has found that 10 UK population centres are actually better placed to enjoy economic growth than the capital. According to the 2019 Vitality Index by Lambert Smith Hampton, Edinburgh is the city with the best prospects for UK economic growth, with Cambridge and Manchester coming in second and third place, despite the UK’s uncertain economic and political environment. Compiled every year, The Vitality Index provides a comprehensive assessment of the health of UK towns and cities, considering education, entrepreneurialism, affluence, productivity, growth and environmental factors.

Leading cities

Edinburgh has risen to the top of the ranking from fifth place last year, knocking innovation capital Cambridge off the top spot for the first time since 2016. Scotland’s first city has seen one of the highest rates of house price growth of any location, alongside strong wage growth. The only Scottish location in the top 10, Edinburgh has a highly qualified population and is forecast to see one of the strongest rates of job growth over the next five years.

Following Cambridge, Northern Powerhouse beneficiary Manchester remains in position number three, and is the sole Northern location to rank within the top ten, seeing strong growth in both population and commercial property rents. As one of the fastest-growing locations, the city has shown a robust GVA growth in the UK as well being one of the most entrepreneurial cities of the year. 

Further down the country meanwhile, the South East is by far the most represented region on the list. Brighton comes in fourth place, holding the top spot for growth in commercial property rents. Oxford and Guildford both fell slightly in the ranking from last year, though they remain in the top 10, with Oxford showing the fastest rate of workforce job growth forecast over the next five years. Elsewhere, Reading sits in seventh position, having seen a substantial improvement in wage growth.

Outside England, the Welsh capital of Cardiff features in the top 10 for the first time, at position number nine, due to increasing house prices and strong job growth. Despite reportedly being placed in a difficult position by Brexit, the city is forecast to see job growth of 6% over the next five years, the strongest of all the locations. Finally, Colchester also featured in the Index’s top ten for the first time, due to its rates of job growth and the city’s ambitious growth plans, which include a £3 billion transformation project.

Commenting on the findings, Izzy Watterson, Senior Analyst at LSH and author of the report, said, “Understandably, Brexit is commanding the nation’s attention and there is a great deal of uncertainty as to how things will unfold. Consequently, it is very reassuring to see that the economic health of the nation’s major towns and cities has improved since last year and the top ten locations should prove among the most economically-resilient locations of 2019.”