New Index Reveals South East Stands Out As The Most Vibrant Region in England

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Vibrant Economy Index from Grant Thornton reveals that the South East stands out as the most vibrant region in England, with Winchester placed 11th, Basingstoke and Deane, Eastleigh and Southampton in the top 20 per cent in certain categories.

Grant Thornton UK LLP today publishes the latest results of its annual Vibrant Economy Index* that measures how places in England compare on a range of factors that measure not only economic but also social performance, from prosperity to health, wellbeing and happiness, and inclusion and equality.

Created to spark a debate on what type of economy we want in the UK, the Vibrant Economy Index ranks the 324 English local authority areas against six broad socio-economic objectives for sustainable and inclusive growth. These six baskets are based on 52 indicators of performance and track factors that enable businesses, communities and individuals to thrive. Places were measured by key factors in each performance indicator, and awarded an overall ‘vibrancy’ score, with 100 being the national average.

According to the Vibrant Economy Index, the South East stands out as the most vibrant region in England with two thirds (45) of its local authority areas ranking in the top 40 per cent nationally. Nearly half (31) rank in the top 20 per cent and five rank in the top 10.

Winchester has just missed out on a top ten position for the second year running, ranking 11th out of 324 local authority areas for overall vibrancy and placed in the top 20 per cent for five out of six baskets. The health, wellbeing and happiness basket also sees the cathedral city positioned 11th in England, suggesting a combination of affluence and economic factors are translating into a healthy and happy place to live, where everyone benefits from economic growth.

The dynamism and opportunity basket – which considers if there are the skillsets and entrepreneurialism to drive future growth – positioned Winchester 12th in England with resilience and sustainability being the only basket Winchester falters on, being ranked 144th out of 324 local authority areas.

Basingstoke and Deane is ranked 55th out of 324 local authority areas for overall vibrancy, gaining four positions in the last year (and 22 in the last two years) and placed in the top 20 per cent for three out of six baskets. It ranks 24th for health, wellbeing and happiness, 33rd for inclusion and equality and 35th for prosperity suggesting a combination of affluence and economic factors are translating into a healthy and happy place to live, where everyone benefits from economic growth.

The dynamism and opportunity basket – which considers if there are the skillsets and entrepreneurialism to drive future growth – positioned Basingstoke and Deane 230rd placing it below the national average. Resilience and sustainability saw it being ranked 117th and the community, trust and belonging basket placed it 95th.

Southampton fares lower down the index than Eastleigh, positioned 190th out of 324 areas for overall vibrancy, having slipped 30 places in the last five years. It ranks in the bottom 20 per cent nationally for community, trust and belonging but in the dynamism and opportunity basket – which considers if there are the skillsets and entrepreneurialism to drive future growth – it is in the top 20 per cent positioned 39th in England.

The health, wellbeing and happiness basket sees Southampton ranked 211th whereas Eastleigh residents claim to be much healthier and happier placed 132nd.

Despite London dominating the top performing areas for prosperity, the South East boasts 26 areas which are included in the top 20 per cent nationally. However, economics is not the only sector where the South East outperforms other regions, on inclusion and equality – with indicators that assess if everyone is benefiting from economic growth – nine of the top 10 performing areas are in the South East and on health, wellbeing and happiness, the South East takes six of the 10 top spots.

According to the Vibrant Economy Index, Cambridge, Camden, Westminster, Wokingham and Richmond upon Thames are the most vibrant places, where there is a good balance between economic growth, social equality, sustainability and healthy and happy people.

Norman Armstrong, partner at Grant Thornton in the south said:

“The vibrancy of any local place is about so much more than GDP and the Vibrant Economy Index provides us with a way of identifying the opportunities for, and the challenges to, social and economic growth across the nation. We know that Winchester is always among the most popular places to live and our Index shows that it is leading the way in the south in so many other areas. However what the index demonstrates for Eastleigh in particular is welcome and show it is going in the right direction. Businesses choosing premises on the outskirts of Eastleigh rather than in the centre of cities like Southampton, investment in local facilities such as the new Places Leisure Eastleigh and its close proximity to excellent transport links is clearly encouraging those to celebrate it as their home.

We’re delighted to see the improvements in Basingstoke and Deane rankings and it is a testament to the commitment in developing the area and making key improvements which are translating to those choosing to reside in the area. A healthy, happy and inclusive community is teamed with economic strength and these results demonstrate that a different, more comprehensive approach to measuring growth is vital if we want to build a positive future and a society that creates opportunities for all.

“We believe that it is up to all of us to create our shared future. This is not something that could – or should – be the sole responsibility of any one organisation or person. Making this vision a reality means we will need to work together, drawing on all of our strengths and expertise.”

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