Economic outlook strong for the Thames Valley region

Posted on: December 6th, 2018

Two studies published last week have both identified the Thames Valley as a leading UK market showing continued growth and appeal. Tim Watkins, a Partner in our Corporate team, based in Newbury, has identified some of the key statistics.

Despite national uncertainty over Brexit, it is interesting to note that, across the Thames Valley at least, there are few obvious signs of collective uncertainty having caused an economic downturn during 2018. Interest in the region (particularly from abroad) continues to grow.

The 2018 ‘Business in Berkshire’ report, published last week by the Thames Valley Berkshire LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) has noted that whilst the number of registered business in the region and the number of firms scaling up (measured by 20% growth each year for 3 years) have both remained fairly constant during the past 12 months, the prominence of foreign direct investment (FDI) has noticeably increased. With the highest concentration of foreign owned companies of all the 38 national LEPs, in Berkshire such companies still account for only 2% of all local companies, and yet collectively generate 30% of local employment and 47% of local turnover. A significant proportion of this is represented perhaps by the Berkshire-based UK headquarters of Vodafone, Microsoft, Telefonica O2 and Oracle Corporation, employing around 12,500 employees between them and emphasising particularly the dominance of Tech Sector companies in this region, although the report also notes the preponderance of business Centres of Excellence focussing on innovation and research and development, including in the newly opened (March 2018) Thames Valley Science Park.

Furthermore, with 81 new FDI projects having been recorded in Berkshire during 2017/18 (the highest in recent years), a further 1,120 new jobs were created, with a particular locus in Oxford and Reading.

Click here for access to the full Thames Valley Berkshire ‘Business in Berkshire 2018’ report.

It is also the cities of Oxford and Reading which have, for the third successive year, retained 1st and 2nd position in PWC’s 7th annual ‘Good Growth in Cities’ index, also published last week. This measures the performance of the largest UK cities across a range of indicators based on the views of the public and of local business. These indicators include jobs, health, income, skills, housing transport, new business and the environment.

The index also particularly recognises the gap between Oxford and Reading, and 3rd placed Southampton which, though narrower than in previous years, is still notable. As the two highest performing cities, Oxford and Reading scored particularly highly for jobs and health, and were recognised for improvements in income and transport.

Click here for access to PWC’s ‘Good Growth for Cities’ report 2018.


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