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CITY COMPETITIVENESS IN THE UK

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A new report on the economic competitiveness of cities in the UK, released ahead of this week's core cities confere...
A new report on the economic competitiveness of cities in the UK, released ahead of this week's core cities conference in Sheffield, highlights that of 41 cities included in a city competitiveness index only 12 are performing above the UK average, eight of which are cities situated within the southern regions of England.

The report by Dr Robert Huggins, director of research of Newidiem - the Cardiff-based economic development think-tank - utilises formulations developed from his previous work on competitiveness in the UK, to focus specifically on the performance of UK cities and metropolitan boroughs.

The most startling finding of the report, sponsored by MIDAS (the Manchester Investment and Development Agency Service), is that none of the large metropolitan cities outside of London - i.e. Birmingham, Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, and Sheffield - or their surrounding boroughs (with the exception of the Manchester boroughs of Trafford and Stockport) are performing above the UK average.

Unsurprisingly, the rankings are led by London, followed by the oil-rich city of Aberdeen, St Albans, Edinburgh, Bristol and Cambridge.

The index analyses the economic competitiveness of cities by constructing a single index reflecting the measurable criteria constituting area competitiveness. The Competitiveness Index consists of a framework based on six key factors: (1) GDP per capita; (2) average earnings; (3) business density; (4) knowledge-based business; (5) economic activity rates; and (6) unemployment rates.

According to Dr Huggins: 'Given the location of most metropolitan boroughs, the report provides further proof of the existence of a north-south divide in economic competitiveness in the UK. It is clear that the majority of the urban areas of northern England do not possess the competitive advantages of their southern counterparts. However, the figures also indicate that within northern areas it is the Manchester conurbation and the north west as a whole that possess the highest growth potential.'

Included in the report is a further index of city knowledge-based business in the UK. This consists of calculating the proportion of knowledge-based businesses in a city as a proportion of all businesses. These most knowledge-intensive cities are (1) St Albans (180, UK=100); (2) London (147); (3) Aberdeen (137); (4) Cambridge (125); (5) Bristol (120); (6) Edinburgh (119); (7) Southampton (110); and (8) Cardiff (106). The lowest concentrations are in (35th) Hull (64); (36th) Lancaster (64); (37th) Sunderland (61); (38th) Wakefield (58); (39th) Durham (58); (40th) Carlisle (55); and (41st) Stoke-on-Trent (54).

Of the 36 metropolitan boroughs (outside of London) only seven have a concentration of knowledge-based business higher than the UK average, four of which are within the Manchester conurbation - the others being the city boroughs of Leeds and Newcastle, plus the Sefton borough of Liverpool.

Dr Huggins states: 'The increasing requirementfor environments that are able to successfully overlap business and cultural needs should give many urban areas a head-start in stimulating new knowledge economies. However, although most cities have recognised this connection, it is vital that new entrepreneurs are given the freedom to grow in a flexible rather than a rigid manner. While planned regeneration has been a necessary feature of many cities since the 1980s, if business clusters, for example, are to emerge as an important source of city development then urban policy must give adequate scope for business to set the agenda.'

Further information on the core cities conference can be obtained on 0114 281 4658/4665.

Further information on MIDAS (the Manchester Investment and Development Agency Service) can be obtained on 0161 877 3000

Annex 1

Index of city competitiveness in the UK (excluding Northern Ireland) (UK=100)

RankCityIndexRankCityIndex

1London115.521Carlisle96.4

2Aberdeen111.422Canterbury96.2

3St Albans110.023Salford96.1

4Edinburgh108.524Coventry95.7

5Bristol105.625Birmingham95.5

6Cambridge103.926Norwich93.7

7Nottingham103.227Newcastle upon Tyne92.2

8Chester103.028Lancaster92.0

9Southampton102.929Lincoln92.0

10Peterborough102.830Bradford91.8

11Portsmouth101.731Sheffield91.1

12Oxford100.432Exeter91.0

13Leeds99.733Plymouth90.0

14Leicester99.034Stoke-on-Trent89.5

15Gloucester98.935Dundee89.4

16York98.436Liverpool88.8

17Glasgow97.837Wakefield88.5

18Manchester97.438Kingston upon Hull88.5

19Derby97.339Swansea86.9

20Cardiff96.840Durham85.3

41Sunderland84.3

Annex 2

Index of the competitiveness of metropolitan boroughs in the UK (UK = 100)

RankMetropolitan BoroughIndexRankMetropolitan BoroughIndex

1Trafford103.119Sandwell89.2

2Stockport102.220Walsall89.2

3Leeds99.721Liverpool88.8

4Solihull99.122Bolton88.7

5Manchester97.423Gateshead88.6

6Tameside96.524Wakefield88.5

7Salford96.125Oldham87.5

8Coventry95.726Wigan87.3

9Birmingham95.527Sefton87.1

10Calderdale93.628Rochdale86.9

11Dudley92.929South Tyneside86.4

12Newcastle upon Tyne92.230St Helens85.3

13Bradford91.831Sunderland84.3

14Kirklees91.232Rotherham83.5

15Sheffield91.133Wirral83.4

16Wolverhampton90.134Doncaster82.4

17Bury89.935Barnsley82.3

18North Tyneside89.736Knowsley78.6

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