Cardiff unmasked: Capital’s strengths and weaknesses revealed

A comprehensive study has been released detailing Cardiff’s best and worst features.

The report, published by Cardiff Council, aimed to assess Cardiff’s potential to become “Europe’s most liveable capital city”. It highlighted a range of socio-economic indicators including average wage, obesity levels and happiness.

Cardiff performed well across many categories, especially concerning safety, resident happiness and its large number of highly qualified people. However, the study also laid bare several of the city’s less favourable attributes, such as the lingering inequalities that exist between Cardiff’s rich and poor.

Cardiff’s population is booming, with the report stating that the city’s population expected to grow at a rate of 26 per cent between 2014 and 2034 – the highest in the UK. It was also stated that: “each day 80,000 people commute in to Cardiff from the surrounding local authorities”, with commuters making up a third of the Welsh capital’s 200,000 strong workforce.

Cardiff unsurprisingly boasts a higher ‘Gross Value Added’ (in layman’s terms; the amount each person adds to the economy) than the rest of Wales, though trails other UK cities in terms of average income. This is something that the study said “must be addressed” if it were to “deliver the opportunities expected in a leading liveable city”.

Inequalities not only exist between Cardiff and other UK cities, but also within Cardiff itself. There are 60,000 citizens in the Welsh capital among the most deprived 10 per cent in Wales, the vast majority of which reside in areas such as Splott, Ely and Adamstown. This disparity in development is underlined by the fact that 48 per cent of children in Ely live in low-income families, compared to only 3 per cent in wealthy Lisvane.

According to the report, Cardiff has experienced a substantial drop in crime rates over the last decade – a decrease of 45.5 per cent – meaning that “people in Cardiff are almost half as likely to be a victim of crime as they were 10 years ago”. This is seen as an important factor in determining Cardiff’s potential as a ‘liveable’ city, with low crime rates contributing to people’s general feeling of safety, and, therefore, the population’s overall happiness.

The study also highlighted the tourism industry as being of great importance to Wales’ capital, reportedly contributing more than £1billion to Cardiff’s economy in 2013. In the same year, Cardiff received over 18 million visitors, with this number surely swelling due to the vast amount of rugby fans that attended World Cup games at the Millennium Stadium.

The report showed that Cardiff is a relatively healthy city, with obesity levels well below Wales’ average, though still slightly concerning. The number of smokers in Cardiff is falling, however the number of binge drinkers is still relatively high. This is largely attributed to the city’s large student population, and is higher than the Welsh average.

Finally, Cardiff performed exceedingly well in arguably the most important indicator observed by the study: happiness. The Welsh capital ranked sixth in terms of satisfaction with quality of life out of Europe’s happiest cities, and was beaten only by Scandinavian cities and Amsterdam. It was stated that 95 per cent of Cardiff’s population were satisfied with their quality of life, 8 per cent higher than London.

The report concluded that: “Cardiff performed extremely well”, especially where quality of life was concerned. The study also declared that: “it is important that this success is built upon”, and with the number of promising projects planned for the city, it would not be over-optimistic to assume that Cardiff could claim the crown of “Europe’s most liveable city” in years to come.