Inequality is holding back the full growth potential of places, according to the results of the annual Vibrant Economy Index.
The Index, published by Grant Thornton UK LLP, measures the ‘vibrancy’ of English local authority areas based on six broad social and economic objectives.
It argues that traditional indicators of economic prosperity do not correlate in any ‘significant’ way with other measurements of performance, such as inclusion and equality. For example, although there are often high levels of economic prosperity in city areas, not everyone benefits from this.
Half of London boroughs are in the bottom 40% nationally for inclusion and equality, while only one borough - Richmond upon Thames - ranks in the top 20% nationally.
According to the Index, Cambridge retained its title as the most vibrant place in England for the fifth year in a row. This was followed by Camden, Westminster, Wokingham and Richmond upon Thames. The most improved place in England was Sheffield, climbing 95 places since 2013.
Paul Dossett, head of local government at Grant Thornton, said: ‘The vibrancy of any local place is about so much more than GDP. From soup kitchens to social enterprises, riverside cleans ups to responsible lending, green recycling schemes to growth generation through Local Enterprise Partnerships – real vibrancy is the result of collaboration between people and public, private and third sector organisations.
‘Using the Vibrant Economy Index as a broader measure than binary GDP really helps us pay attention to the things that matter. This means that we can identify both our strengths and also the areas of inequality across the country. It also, crucially, shows who we can learn from to allow us to shape a vibrant economy and sustainable society where no one is left behind.’