Business is better in the South

POSTED: 14th July 2014
IN: Guides

The UK’s economic reliance on London and the surrounding area is hardly a secret, but to what extent is it true that small businesses in the South of England are at an advantage over their Northern counterparts?

undefinedTaking top-line statistics, London is undoubtedly a thriving hub of growth in 2014, achieving first place in Price Waterhouse Cooper’s global Cities of Opportunity index, with the firm reporting:

“The British Capital finishes first in technology readiness, economic clout and city gateway – all measures of its stature as a thriving centre of the world economy.”

Similarly, data from the Office for National Statistics reveals a strong concentration of productive activity in the region, with inner London, West, achieving the highest average annual gross value added per head of any UK region at £127,127.

This dominance isn’t just driven by the high proportion of market-leading businesses with headquarters based in the capital, as the Centre for Cities pinpoints London as the UK city with the highest concentration of SMEs.

The number of new businesses launching in London has reached an astounding pace, 18.4 times that of Aberdeen, which comes in second place for new start-ups. Pockets of activity, including the 15,620 new SMEs reportedly formed in the EC1V ‘Silicon roundabout’ postcode area last year, are cementing London’s position as Britain’s new-business capital. In fact, just three of the top twenty postcodes for new start-ups lie outside of the capital, though London as a whole also has the third-highest business closure rate.

In terms of growth, the Centre for Cities report reveals six of the ten cities, with the highest proportion of expanding SMEs are located in the South East. Poignantly though, when growth is measured in terms of hiring activity, this number drops to just three Southern cities in the top ten, with London coming in eighth.

In light of these combined statistics, it is unsurprising that a recent ComRes British Library survey found 56 per cent of entrepreneurs believe start-up support is too London-centric. Perhaps though, this could be set to change, as on Monday, the government unveiled a £6 billion investment plan to develop infrastructure, training opportunities and homebuilding activity in other regions of the UK.

“For too long our economy has been too London-focused and too centralised,” admitted Prime Minister David Cameron, announcing, “Growth deals will help change all that. They are about firing up our great cities, towns and counties so they can become powerhouses.”

While much of this investment has been earmarked for boosting the North’s economic development, Southern centres of industry beyond the capital could also stand to benefit, with £23 million already set aside for a project in the Swindon and Wichelstowe area.

Aldermore is keen to hear opinions from small businesses across all regions of the UK on Twitter: where in Britain offers the best opportunities for SMEs in 2014?

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