Sunderland is one of the worst places in Britain to live, according to a new report.
The Demos-PwC Good Growth for Cities Index, which measures the performance of 39 of the UK’s largest cities across ten categories regarded by the public as key to economic success and quality of life, ranks Wearside as fourth from bottom with a score of 0.4 below the national average, behind only Wakefield and Castleford; Middlesbrough and Stockton, and the London boroughs and just ahead of Liverpool.
Reading & Bracknell; Oxford, Edinburgh, Cambridge and Aberdeen are ranked as the best places to live in the UK in terms of economic prospects and quality of life.
It is not all bad news for Sunderland, however, with the city’s rating having improved since the same report two years ago.
City council leader Coun Paul Watson was scathing about the new report: “We regularly see these think-tanks and other organisations producing reports with their self-supporting statistics and opinions,” he said.
“These reports often have little or no real basis in fact, and the council has better uses for its time and resources than responding.”
We regularly see these think-tanks and other organisations producing reports with their self-supporting statistics and opinions. These reports often have little or no real basis in fact, and the council has better uses for its time and resources than responding.Coun Paul Watson
Employment, health, income and skills are the most important of factors, as judged by the public, while housing affordability, commuting times, environmental factors and income inequality are also included in the index.
Rising employment and a return to growth in real earnings have helped boost the performance of many areas of the UK but the latest average scores still lag behind those recorded before the financial crisis in 2005-7.
The report also shows the North of England beginning to close the gap with the south which opened up during the recession.
John Hawksworth, chief economist at PwC, said: “While we have seen some recent improvement, the average index score for 2012-14 remains below that for 2005-07, highlighting the depth and impact of the global financial crisis and the subsequent UK recession.
“Improved employment figures and some growth in real household disposable income were the main drivers of improvement in our 2015 index.
“However, in some cities this has impacted on housing affordability, commuting times and work-life balance, offsetting part of the gains from economic recovery in our overall good growth index.”
The report also shows that a booming economy is not all good news. Income in London may be higher than the national average, but Londoners pay the price in other ways, with unaffordable housing, long commuting times, protracted working hours and unequal income distribution all affecting the quality of life.