UK Prosperity Index 2021

Brand-new Index measures institutional, economic, and social wellbeing across the UK’s 379 local authorities

A report for the Centre for UK Prosperity programme by Professor Matthew Goodwin

Published 13 May 2021

A tool for transformation to help ‘level-up’ the country

As well as the full UK Prosperity Index 2021 report you can also download detailed datasheets for each of the UK’s 15 regions and 379 local authorities  here.


The Centre for UK Prosperity was launched in October 2020 with the goal of unlocking prosperity across all regions and communities in the UK. We know that genuine prosperity is about far more than building a strong economy or supporting individual wealth. True prosperity is only possible when all citizens, neighbourhoods, and communities are able to reach their full potential across broad aspects such as education, entrepreneurial activity, and community life.

While we support the Government’s focus on ‘levelling-up’ regions that have historically been left behind, we believe that we need to do more than just level-up regions to the status-quo. The UK stands at a ‘reset moment’, with more autonomy, flexibility, and control over its own destiny than at any other point for half a century. We need to embrace this moment with both hands and use the advantages that it brings to support as many of our regions and local communities as possible into the ‘fast lane’ toward greater and long-lasting prosperity.

This is why, with the generous support of our donors, we have developed the UK Prosperity Index. It includes detailed data on levels of institutional, economic, and social wellbeing across the 379 boroughs, council areas, local government districts, and unitary and local authorities that encompass the four nations of the UK. The Index is specifically designed to be a transformational tool that allows citizens, local authorities, regions, and government to sharpen their understanding of what is working, track their progress over time, and hold leaders to account.

Key findings

  • The UK is one of the most prosperous nations in the world, ranked 13th in the Legatum Prosperity IndexTM. Its prosperity increased during the first half of the 2010s but since then has been stagnating. This underlines the need for a much closer assessment of prosperity in the UK if the country is to make the most out of its reset moment.
  • Despite fears of economic stagnation, the UK Prosperity Index shows that the country continues to build an open and strong economy that benefits from one of the strongest education systems in the world, an increasingly strong natural environment, and improving infrastructure. The Index confirms that many of the UK’s ‘economic fundamentals’ are strong or improving.
  • However, we also find that overall prosperity is currently being undermined by a deterioration in things that lie outside of the traditional focus on GDP, infrastructure, and transport, including: the safety and security of communities; people’s physical and mental health; conditions for local enterprise such as labour market flexibility; key aspects of social capital; and, to a lesser extent, the effectiveness of local governance. Much of this is missed in a levelling-up debate that focuses narrowly on ‘bridges and trains’.
  • Drilling down into the regional and local drivers of prosperity also reveals why the conversation about levelling-up the UK is too simplistic. Crude distinctions between ‘north and south’ or ‘cities and small towns’ gloss over the considerable variation that exists both between and within regions and fails to highlight the success stories where we see considerable increases in prosperity.

We believe the UK Prosperity Index is the most ambitious and comprehensive index of its kind to date. We hope that national, regional and local governments, businesses, investors, philanthropists, citizens, and others will use the Index and work with us to bolster the prosperity of the UK.

The Index is also an evolving tool and we always welcome suggested ways of improving our data and analysis. You can help us by sending suggestions to

Since the publication of the UK Prosperity Index 2021 report on 13 May we have taken the opportunity, following our ongoing engagement with local authorities, to update historical data and correct some indicators. The materials available on this website reflect the data changes, so differ slightly from the printed report. For more details, you can download a technical briefing on the Downloads page.

Watch a video summarising the key findings from the 2021 UK Prosperity Index here:


UK Prosperity Index 2021:

A tool for transformation to help ‘level-up’ the country

By Professor Matthew Goodwin

May 2021

Download the reportPDF