SOUTHAMPTON has been confirmed as one of the UK’s top cities for combining quality of life with economic growth.

The Good Growth for Cities report aims to measure the factors the public thinks are important for economic wellbeing, rather than just economic output.

Southampton was third in the UK – a position it has held for the past three years in the index, from professional services giant PwC and the think tank Demos. It was behind only Oxford and Reading.

Julian Gray, senior partner at PwC’s Southampton office, said: “It’s fantastic to see Southampton once again rank in third place in PwC’s Good Growth for Cities index. Across the city, the private and public sector are successfully working together to stimulate growth, and enhance the city’s commercial, cultural and civic life.

“The city faces some challenges, such as jobs, quality of transport, and health. At PwC we are working alongside the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership to develop the Solent Local Industrial Strategy, which will shape the long-term future of the region, and stimulate new opportunities and growth across the Solent.

“With highly skilled workers, an abundance of research and development activity, and the home of major institutions such as Southampton University and the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton is a dynamic, vibrant area, and an attractive place to invest, live and work.”

The report judges cities on a basket of 10 factors including jobs, health, income, skills, work-life balance, house affordability, travel-to-work times, income equality, environment and business start-ups.

Southampton saw its score for work-life balance rise and scored strongly in income improvement, diversity of skills and the creation of sustainable environments.

Sandy Hopkins, chief executive of Southampton City Council, said: “To see Southampton ranked once again in the top three cities for good growth in the UK is testimony to our continued commitment to sustainable development.

“Our local economy performed better than any other city on the South Coast during the second quarter of 2019, according to last month’s UK Powerhouse report. Our consistently high position in PwC’s Good Growth for Cities index shows that our strong GDP growth is being achieved in a way that also offers economic wellbeing and stability for residents.

“With our City of Culture bid and next year’s Mayflower 400 celebrations, there’s so much going on in Southampton at the moment.

“We’re building global partnerships, have a thriving tech sector, and have long-term development plans with the Mayflower Quarter. This will continue to provide homes for businesses and residents while bringing forward development opportunities and state of the art public realm. All of this is underpinned by a sustainable transport vision connecting the city.”

Jonathan House, PwC partner and local government leader, said: “In an era of political, technological and environmental disruption, cities and regions that want to get ahead, need to do things differently.

“Even with the uncertainty of Brexit, over the last year, local leaders have had significant success in delivering good growth in their cities and regions. Our research shows the need to take a comprehensive approach to growth, focusing on improving productivity to compete on a global stage, but also on ensuring fairness and inclusive growth so that people and places don’t feel left behind.

“Local leaders need to take a broad view on what economic success means, focusing on the outcomes they want to achieve in terms of inclusive growth, community resilience and improved experience, and crucially, having a plan to translate those ambitions into reality.

“Skills amongst the working age population, alongside the number of new businesses created, have seen the largest improvements; this is a result of leaders focusing on building new opportunities and investing in the talent of their city and region.”