Wiltshire revealed as ‘most vibrant’ place in the West of England

By Anita Jaynes on 10 February, 2017

Today (February 10, 2017), leading business and financial adviser Grant Thornton UK LLP releases the results of a new index, which has found that Wiltshire is the most vibrant place in the West of England, with Bath following closely behind. The Vibrant Economy Index provides an indication of social performance as well as economic, and measures how towns and cities in the region compare on a range of factors from prosperity to health, wellbeing and happiness, and dynamism and opportunity.

The Vibrant Economy Index is based on 52 indicators of performance, tracking factors that enable businesses, communities and individuals to thrive. These include economic measures and combines them with data around fuel poverty, obesity levels, air quality and crime rates to give a picture of how a place is performing – not just economically, but also socially. The 324 English local authority areas were measured by key factors in each performance indicator and awarded an overall ‘vibrancy’ score, with 100 being the average.

In the league table, all local areas in the West of England performed above the national average. Wiltshire comes in 20th place (scoring 104.72) and Bath comes 23rd (104.63). Next in the region is South Gloucestershire (32nd – 104.22) and Bristol (56th – 103.09). Finally, North Somerset comes in slightly above the national average at 100.67 (121st).

The Vibrant Economy Index for the region is published ahead of Grant Thornton’s Live Lab event on 1 March at At-Bristol, where influencers and leaders from private, public and third sectors will discuss how to work together and shape the future skills of the West of England.

While Wiltshire leads overall in the region, other local authorities have seen success in specific areas of the study. Swindon leads in the Prosperity indicator for the region – measuring factors including business turnover and average weekly pay, followed by Bristol (39th – 105.22), South Gloucestershire (52nd – 104) and Bath and North East Somerset (106th – 100.92).

South Gloucestershire comes out top in the region in the Dynamism and Opportunity indicator (31st – 106.15), which measures factors including GCSE attainment, patents granted and business formation rate. Boosting its score is the number of patents developed in the area at 76.9 patents per 100,000 of the population, almost double the England average of 46.7. Bath (35th – 105.82) and Bristol (37th – 105.27) followed closely behind, with Wiltshire coming 56th (103.76).

Bath leads the region in the Health and Wellbeing index, coming 43rd out of all 324 local authorities with a score of 105.21, followed by South Gloucestershire at 55th (104.77) and Wiltshire at 74th (103.96). Bath’s score was boosted by lower than average rates of diabetes – with 4.59 per cent of the population diagnosed, compared with the UK average of 6.37 per cent.

Meanwhile, Bristol comes top in the Resilience and Sustainability Index, coming 9th in the UK with a score of 108.98. Contributing factors included having a low proportion of new houses in a flood zone, at 2.36 per cent versus the UK average of 7.72 per cent, and lower CO2 emissions per capita at 4.2 tonnes, versus the average of six tonnes.

John Panteli, Partner at Grant Thornton, said: “The West of England is a fantastic place to live and work, but the Vibrant Economy Index has indicated that opportunities for growth still lie in the region. The Live Lab event on 1 March will help us to consider the West of England’s strengths and explore how we can work together to build on what gives the region its competitive edge.

“We have an ambitious aim for the day, tackling how we can help educate, train, attract and retain the people with the skills that the West of England needs to grow. How do we ensure we’ve got the jobs those people need and how do we create an environment that means people want to keep living in the area? We believe that if we can get our businesses, community leaders and public sector organisations working together, we can find ways to make this aspiration a reality.”

More information on the Live Lab event can be found at: http://bit.ly/2jMugxJ and the conversation continues on Twitter at #VibrantWE.