Scottish Cities 'Among Best In UK'

Aberdeen and Edinburgh have been ranked as the second and third top cities in the UK in which to live and work, according to a new report.

The 2014 Good Growth for Cities index measured the performance of 39 of the UK's largest cities against 10 categories defined by the public as key to economic success and personal and family well-being.

These include jobs, health, income, skills, work-life balance, house-prices, travel-to-work times and pollution.

The report, from PwC and think-tank Demos, found that Aberdeen remains in second place in the overall index, again behind Reading, as in 2013.

Edinburgh is still in third place while Glasgow is ranked 25th, well ahead of London and other large cities such as Liverpool and Birmingham and in a similar position to Manchester and Leeds.

Paul Brewer, head of Government and Public Sector at PwC in Scotland, said: "Overall the Scottish cities scored highly in terms of employment, income, work/life balance and the skills base, with Aberdeen demonstrating that high growth can also bring challenges, with housing affordability holding it back.

"The Scottish cities also show a broad sectoral balance, with only Edinburgh having a particularly high reliance on services and particularly financial services.''

He added: "Collectively the existing strengths of Scotland should inform a clear vision for future decentralisation, their goals for future growth, attractiveness, competitiveness and a programme of change that gets us there.

"Further devolution of tax-raising powers, and the use of those powers, should complement Scotland's city strategies and enhance Scotland's ability to take on and deliver new powers and responsibilities.

"Overall, the index shows that people are looking for a package of attractions in their preferred city home, ranging from available jobs to affordable housing and a good quality of life.

"Our research also suggests that investors set similar priorities in the hunt for skills, talent and appropriate infrastructure. Collectively that suggests that the top Good Growth Cities are good for employers, workers and their dependants.''

According to the report, which extends back in time to allow comparison between the latest results and those in 2005-07, Aberdeen and Edinburgh are among the top five UK cities to have demonstrated the greatest improvement since the recession.

The report also assessed the performance of Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling, Inverness, Dundee and Perth compared with the UK average, and with each other.

The latter four were not included in the national rankings and so have not been ranked.

It found that across the Scottish cities there were relatively high scores for jobs, income, and skills.

Scores were also quite high for work-life balance and housing affordability, except for in Aberdeen, and for sectoral balance, with the exception of Edinburgh with its strong focus on services, especially Financial Services.

Transport also scored average or above when compared with the rest of the UK.

The report found that the main weakness was the below average scores for health for half of the Scottish cities assessed.

Lindsay Gardner, PwC's regional chairman in Scotland, said: "Overall, Scottish cities have successfully delivered skills, communications, and employment opportunities with work/life balance and income distribution. There are the key messages that help attract investment and drive up sustainable employment

"It's important that the messages in this report are clearly understood and seen in the broader context of international competitiveness, where our recent Paying Taxes report shows that the UK also has one of the most competitive and attractive tax regimes in the world.''

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