Scotland’s biggest cities have moved up a UK-wide league table, but economists have warned growth north of the border will be below the national average.

Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen have all moved up the rankings of PwC’s Good Growth for Cities Index, published on Tuesday, which charts a basket of broad economic measures.

As well as rising in the overall rankings, the accountancy firm said, the cities were better than the UK average for skills among 16- to 24-year-olds and housing affordability.

But Jason Morris, regional market leader at PwC Scotland, said: “We must also look to address the areas in which we are performing below the UK average and take heed of the fact that our expected economic growth in 2024 – while positive – also tracks below the UK’s expected rate of growth.”

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The annual Demos-PwC report, which first published in 2011, predicted a 0.11% fall in Scottish economic activity across 2023, with predicted growth of 0.82% in 2024 – lower than the predicted rate of UK economic growth of 0.05% in 2023 and 0.99% in 2024.

Those behind the report said slow and negative growth was driven by a concentration of activity in sectors expected to struggle in coming years, including professional, scientific and technical; and agriculture, forestry and fishing.

They said the sectors are expected to shrink by 0.6% and 0.23%, respectively, in 2023.

And while Glasgow and Edinburgh are ranked within the top 20 cities for expected economic growth in 2024, PwC said, Scottish cities are projected to be among the worst of the devolved nations in terms of economic activity this year with Edinburgh and Aberdeen expected to see a reduction in activity.



Mr Morris said: “Of the 50 cities in the index, Glasgow and Edinburgh are ranked 19th and 20th for economic growth in 2024, reflecting the opportunities available should businesses and local government come together to capitalise on the potential that Scotland holds in key sectors, in order to create cities our people are proud to live and work in.”

The Good Growth for Cities Index ranks 50 of the UK’s largest cities based on the public’s assessment of 12 economic measures, including: jobs, health, income, safety and skills, as well as work-life balance, housing, travel-to-work times, income equality, high street shops, environment and business start-ups.

Measuring against the public’s priorities, Scottish cities tend to perform below the national average, with the exception of Edinburgh, PwC said.

Despite showing improvements in the rankings, the three Scottish cities included in the index performed below the UK average on measures including health and new business.

Edinburgh sits at 15th, up from 19th last year, with an above-average performance against indicators of economic success, including work-life balance and skills for those aged 25 and over.

Glasgow, meanwhile, was relatively the weakest of the cities north of the border, despite moving from 42nd in last year’s ranking’s to 35th this year, while also tracking above the UK average on work-life balance.

Aberdeen is among the top six most improved UK cities within the index, PwC said, sitting in 31st place compared to 37th last year.


Aberdeen Harbour

Like Edinburgh, PwC said, skills among those aged over 25 came in above the UK average.

MSP Neil Gray, the Scottish Government’s wellbeing economy secretary, welcomed the rise in the rankings for the three cities.

“In the Scottish Government’s policy prospectus, the First Minister pledged to help business and trade to thrive and maximise the opportunity of the green economy, with fairness at its heart. Our New Deal for Business Group will build constructive relationships and help push forward a successful wellbeing economy for Scotland,” he said.

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“Whilst we do not hold all the financial levers needed, the 2023-24 Scottish Budget supports a fairer and more progressive economy.

“This includes allocating £244 million for the Scottish National Investment Bank, £6.5 million to boost entrepreneurship through our national network of Techscalers, and £186.5 million to enterprise agencies to help attract investment and create fair and sustainable jobs.”