On Thursday 13th May the Legatum Institute is publishing a brand-new UK Prosperity Index. It uses 256 indicators based on the latest available data (predominantly from before Covid-19 struck) to provide a comprehensive assessment of institutional, economic, and social wellbeing across the country’s 379 local authorities. The Index will be used to track the Government’s ‘levelling-up agenda’ and hold decision-makers to account for improving the prosperity of all regions of the UK.

The Index reveals that London is the 4th most prosperous region of the UK, with a strong economy, good infrastructure, a supportive environment for business, and good education. However, the city’s prosperity is being undermined by declining safety and security, failure to build inclusive and connected communities, and the highest rates of poverty in the UK.

The Index shows that London’s key strengths are:

  • The strongest investment environment in the country: the city has the highest amount of venture capital in the UK at £407 per person, and the highest rate of equity finance success.
  • High quality and improving infrastructure: superfast broadband is available in the vast majority of premises, residents live close to major rail stations and airports, and there is a high proportion of electric car charge points.
  • Relatively good levels of health: it has the highest life expectancy at age 65 in the country, and relatively low levels of smoking and deaths from drug or alcohol misuse.
  • The strongest education system in the country: there is particularly strong primary and secondary education, and 93% of working-age Londoners hold some type of qualification, one of the highest levels of adult skills in the country.

However, the Index also reveals that there are opportunities for London to ‘level-up’, including:

  • Improving safety and security: there are 4.5 robbery offences per 1,000 people, compared to a UK average of 1.4, and since 2011 there have been 23 terror attacks resulting in 22 deaths and 202 people injured or wounded.
  • Increasing levels of social capital: more people in London than elsewhere in the UK feel they lack companionship, and the city has some of the lowest rates of community participation in the UK with 10% of adults volunteering to help sports, compared to the national average of 13%.
  • Improving living conditions: homelessness, over-indebtedness, and poverty are significant problems for the city, with 29% of the population in poverty and 12% in deep poverty.
  • Improving the quality of the natural environment: the city has a high concentration of fine particulate matter and nitrogen oxides, and the proportion of adult deaths caused by air pollution is estimated to be nearly 30% greater than the national average.

Professor Matthew Goodwin, Director of the Legatum Institute’s Centre for UK Prosperity, said: “The UK Prosperity Index is the most ambitious assessment of prosperity across the country to date. With detailed data on all boroughs and council areas, it is a transformational tool that can help policy makers and influencers target their interventions more effectively on the journey towards greater prosperity. The Index will be updated annually, allowing citizens, businesses, local authorities, regions, and national government to track progress over time and hold decision-makers to account.

“The holistic and rigorous approach we have taken has allowed us to identify issues that have previously been missed in the discussion about how to level-up the country. It highlights that while London performs well economically, we also need to invest in areas such as safety and security, poverty reduction, and community life if we are to see all citizens, neighbourhoods, and communities in the city reach their full potential. We hope our Index will help London’s leaders set their agendas and implement strategies that will unlock real prosperity.”

At a borough level, the Index shows that:

  • Richmond upon Thames is the most prosperous borough in London (ranked 7th out of 379 UK local authorities), with healthy and well-education citizens and a thriving economy with strong communications network and well-developed infrastructure
  • London is home to four of the five most improved local authorities in the UK since 2011:
    1. Newham – the borough has seen particular improvements in secondary education and adult skills, and has reduced CO2 emissions and levels of harmful air pollution.
    2. Hammersmith and Fulham – businesses in the borough have an easier experience of starting, competing, and expanding, and infrastructure is well-developed and improving.
    3. Waltham Forest – there have been improvements in the borough’s transport and communications infrastructure, and better employment opportunities in the labour market due to increased skills in the workplace.
    4. Tower Hamlets – the borough has improved its labour force engagement and there has been a rise in attainment rates in secondary education as well as in levels of adult skills.
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