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Norwich named as one of fastest growing cities in Britain

Christmas shopping in Norwich on Saturday December 11th 2010

Christmas shopping in Norwich on Saturday December 11th 2010

Archant Norfolk 2010

Norwich has been named as the fourth fastest growing city in the country, according to a new report which looks at which places are most likely to recover quickly from the recession.

But the report’s claim that the city will also be among the places least affected by the cuts has been rejected by the leader of Norwich City Council.

A string of statistics about Norwich are revealed in the Cities Outlook 2011 - a report by the independent research and policy institute Centres for Cities.

It compared 64 towns and cities around the country on areas such as population growth, average wage and the number of people with qualifications.

One of the most eye-catching statistics for Norwich is that the city is named as the fourth fastest growing in the country between 1999 and 2009.

The report says that between those years the population of Norwich grew by 25,200, up from 238,000 in 1999 to 263,200 in 2009, with only Milton Keynes, York and Swindon seeing a bigger annual growth rate percentage.

It describes that as a sign of a buoyant economy - a signal that the city has ridden the recession well and is still thriving.

Steve Morphew, leader of Norwich City Council, said: “Norwich is growing quickly and we remain well positioned to solve some of the problems that we have got.
“I’ve never suggested the city’s future is all doom and gloom but what we do need is our fair share of investment and resources to achieve our potential.
“We are not looking for handouts, but for investment in the city where those who do invest will get a huge rate of return.”

The report also showed that the percentage of the working age population who had jobs between July 2009 and June last year was above the national average.

The city was ranked 18th of the cities in that category, with 71.5pc of eligible people in work compared to the Great Britain average of 70.4pc.

But the average weekly wage, the survey claimed, lagged behind the national average - with a weekly pay packet in Norwich of £436 below the £491 a week average for the country as a whole.

London topped that table with an average weekly wage of £626.70, while Cambridge was in fifth spot with £572.30,

The report showed Norwich had a higher than average percentage of the working age population who did not have any formal qualifications, with 9.2pc without qualifications compared the the national average of 7.9pc.

The percentage of the working age population in Norwich with degree level qualifications is 28pc, which is below the national average of 29.9pc, but still places the city 22nd out of 64 cities.

While Norwich was not named in the report as one of the five cities best placed for a private sector-led recovery, neither is it named as one of the cities most likely to suffer from cuts.

Norwich is ranked as one of the cities where the cuts in welfare will be lowest.

The report says social welfare spending in Norwich will fall by £107 a year for each resident by 2014/15, with only York, Oxford and Cambridge seeing a lower impact. Birkenhead is top of the table with a cut of £197 per head.

Milton Keynes, Reading, Aberdeen, Leeds and Bristol are named as cities to watch because they will be better-insulated from the economic impact of the spending squeeze, and have high potential to create private sector jobs.

The five most vulnerable cities which may not feel the full benefits of national economic recovery for some time are Sunderland, Liverpool, Birkenhead, Swansea and Newport.

But Mr Morphew said, because the report defined Norwich as the areas covered by Norwich City Council and Broadland District Council, there was a danger it could mask some of the real deprivation in the city - people who will be badly hit by the welfare cuts.

He said: “We have always said Norwich is a tale of two cities. You have got very affluent areas, but then very close by there are areas were people are less well-off.

“Broadland is one of the wealthiest districts in the country, so this report can give a false picture of some of the real problems we face and doesn’t help us when it comes to us making our case for why we need more support.
“For some families the social welfare cuts are really going to hurt.”

• What do you think of the report? Write to eveningnews@letters@archant.co.uk

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