The best place to live and work in Scotland revealed in new report

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A Scottish city has outpaced most UK cities in economic success and wellbeing since the recession, a new study has found.

Data stretching back a decade shows Edinburgh has improved its score in the Good Growth for Cities index, compiled by accountancy firm PwC and think tank Demos, since the 2008 financial crash – mainly due to an improvement in skills among 25 to 64-year-olds.

Edinburgh Old Town skyline from Princes street. 'Picture: Ian Rutherford

Edinburgh Old Town skyline from Princes street. 'Picture: Ian Rutherford

The study found Edinburgh was the best place to live and work in Scotland had also seen a big improvement in the number of new businesses compared with 2005-07, but the city has seen a widening of the gap between house prices and earnings.

In the 2018 Good Growth report, Edinburgh is ranked sixth in the top ten best places to live and work out of 42 cities across the UK – down from fourth last year, mainly due to house prices rising faster than wages.

The Good Growth index looks not only at economic performance but also employment, health, income, skills, housing affordability, commuting times and environmental factors.

The Capital scores above average for jobs, income, work-life balance, skills and the environment, but only average for health, income distribution, owner occupation and new businesses. It rates below average for transport and the ratio of house prices to earnings.

Lindsay Gardiner, regional chairman, PwC Scotland, said: “Edinburgh remains one of the best cities in the UK in which to live and do business. The City Deal will only help the city futureproof itself in a world being rapidly altered by technology.”

And she said the growing problem of housing affordability was evidence that 
Edinburgh was paying the price of its success.

Lothian Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale said the report’s findings were “fantastic news”.

She said: “The job opportunities and work-life balance is undeniably the best in Scotland, and various city council administrations should be proud of what they have achieved this century. But there is a major risk facing our city, and that is Brexit. It threatens our universities, our businesses and our public services, and could hit us harder than any other city because of our services sector.”

Housing and economy convener Kate Campbell said the council’s economy strategy was focussed on making Edinburgh fairer so every person in every community was able to share in the city’s success.

“More and more people are choosing to live in Edinburgh. Our economy is thriving with high quality jobs in sectors such as technology, finance, life sciences, culture and tourism. This inevitably puts pressure on our housing market.

“That’s why we’ve been working hard on dealing with short term lets, tackling homelessness and B&B use, and that’s why our affordable housebuilding programme is one of our biggest priorities.

“This week at our committee we have a report on Rent Pressure Zones which is about fulfilling our coalition commitment to tackle exorbitant rents in the private rented sector.

“We know that building homes and taking steps to protect housing supply are not only needed so that everyone can have a safe, warm home that they can afford – it’s also vital that we do this to boost the economy and keep Edinburgh as one of the best places to live in the world.”