Preston is the UK’s most improved city to work and live in, according to a new report from Pricewaterhouse Coopers.
The 2018 Good Growth for Cities Index from PwC puts Preston at the top of its ‘top improvers’ list ahead of Middlesbrough, and at 14th place in the overall list it comes one place above London. Preston also outstrips north-west neighbours Liverpool and Manchester in both lists.
PwC’s research used a range of measures including employment, workers’ pay, house prices, transport, the environment, work-life-balance and inequality to rank 42 UK cities.
Long term improvements starting to show
Several factors have contributed to Preston’s success. Unemployment has fallen from 6.5% in 2014 to 3.1% in 2017, and over 44% of 16-24 year olds held at least an NVQ level 3 qualification, compared to only 34% in 2014.
“Preston has punched above its weight for several years now and the scale of improvement is clear for all to see,” said Mark Whittle, manager of Preston Business Improvement District (BID).
“It is a city that doesn’t need to emulate somewhere like Manchester. Preston offers quite a unique visitor experience which is gathering momentum on a daily basis. With a line of investors setting their sights on city real estate and a thriving start up sector in full swing, the city now offers the complete package in which to live, work and do business. These are exciting times.”
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Preston city council has, in recent years, encouraged major local employers including the police and the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) to source goods and services from local businesses.
Matthew Brown, the leader of the city council, said: “We are proud to receive national recognition for the improvement in these areas that has been made in the city in the last 12 months.”
Earlier in 2018, the council set aside £400,000 to renovate nearly 1,000 empty properties around Preston.
Reasons to be cheerful
The growth of UCLAN to cater for around 30,000 students makes it one of the area’s largest employers, and the city is commutable to Manchester and Liverpool, making it an attractive option to live in.
Its proximity to the Lake District, just over an hour to the north, as well as the coast also help push Preston’s case. The city also enjoys good transport links, being close to the M6, M61 and M58, and has one of the main stations on the London – Glasgow west coast rail line.