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Northern Powerhouse powers up, finds survey

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Former Chancellor George Osborne’s vision of a ‘Northern Powerhouse’ may finally be coming to fruition, with the latest Demos-PwC’s ‘Good Growth for Cities’ index showing cities in the North are catching up with those in the South.

Birmingham was named the fastest improving city in the UK in a new ranking, alongside Leeds, Leicester and Newcastle. That said, Southern cities continued to top the rankings on a combined measure, taking into account employment, health, income, skills, housing affordability and commuting times, among other factors. Oxford came top for 2017.

London was fifth in the list of the top 10 most improved cities, but didn’t make the list of highest ranking cities, which also included Reading, Southampton, Edinburgh and Bristol.

John Hawksworth, chief economist at PWc, said: “The UK has been a great job-creating machine in recent years and this has driven improvement in our good growth index this year across all major UK cities.

“But there has also been a price to pay for this in terms of worsening housing affordability, increased average commuting times and more people having to work long hours. The cities that are highest ranked on our index also tend to suffer the highest price of success.”

Paul Terrington, PwC head of regions, said falling unemployment rates had helped create improvements in Northern cities, which were finally seeing the benefits of economic recovery after the financial crisis.

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