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London and Thames Valley are the UK’s Most Competitive Economies

The UK’s economic competitiveness continues to be driven by businesses located largely in London and the South East of England. This is one of the findings of the 2016 edition of the UK Competitiveness Index compiled by Professor Robert Huggins of Cardiff University and Dr Piers Thompson of Nottingham Trent University. Based on a basket of economic indicators, the report finds that London accounts for the top nine most competitive local authority areas in Britain, headed by some distance by the City of London, and followed by Westminster, Camden, and Islington.

Southampton is one of the fasted improving cities. A number of England’s largest cities – including Bristol, Leeds, Nottingham, Newcastle, Sheffield and Liverpool – have seen their position improve, suggesting a continued urban renaissance in these core cities.

At a local authority area level, the biggest climber since 2013 is Gosport in the South East of England, followed by Corby in the East Midlands and Babergh in the East of England. The biggest fallers are Maldon in the East of England, followed by Richmondshire in Yorkshire and Humber and Nuneaton and Bedworth in the West Midlands.

From a regional perspective, localities in London and South East of England lead the way, followed the West Midlands, with the North East seeing one of the largest improvements. In Scotland, Glasgow and Edinburgh continue to improve their competitiveness suggesting gains from the devolved power to set economic policy. In Wales, however, local authority areas continue to perform more weakly and have seen an overall fall in their rankings.  The least competitive locality in Britain is Blaenau Gwent in the South Wales valleys.

In England, the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas in the Greater South East of England are by far the most competitive, led by the London LEP area followed by Thames Valley Berkshire LEP area. At the bottom of the LEP/city region area rankings is the Swansea Bay City Region. There is evidence that less competitive areas take a variety of forms with the more rural Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly the next least competitive, but just above these areas is the much more urbanised Black Country LEP area.

Professor Huggins said: ‘The geography of the UK continues to be economically polarised, with wealth generation driven by a limited number of hot-spot locations. It appears that those areas more dependent on manufacturing are continuing to lose competitiveness, with the UK’s international competitiveness becoming increasingly reliant on high-end service sector activities. The lack of any meaningful and suitably funded regional or local development policy suggests that most of the UK’s economies will continue to operate within a very challenging environment unless new public investment is made available’.

Notes for editors:

Further information:
Professor Robert Huggins, Chair in Economic Geography
Director, Centre for Economic Geography,
School of Geography and Planning, Cardiff University
E-mail: HugginsR@cardiff.ac.uk
Tel: +44 (0)29 208 76006

The UK Competitiveness Index uses a composite measure based on the following: Economic activity rate; business start-up rates per 1,000 inhabitants; number of businesses per 1,000 inhabitants; proportion of working age population with NVQ level 4 or higher; proportion of knowledge-based businesses; Gross Value Added per capita; productivity; employment rates; gross weekly pay; and unemployment rates.

Silicon Valley remains the world’s leading economic hotspot

One of the largest international surveys of the competitiveness of regions and cities finds that Silicon Valley in California remains the world’s leading economic hotspot.

According to the Global Competitiveness of Regions study, which analyses more than 500 regions and cities, Brussels is the most competitive European region, ranked 2nd overall, with Tokyo taking the honours in Asia, and ranked 3rd overall. Also ranked in the top five are Washington DC (4th) and the Korean industrial powerhouse region of Ulsan.

The study, which was led by Professor Robert Huggins of Cardiff University, analyses a range of indicators to produce a ranking of regions based on their rate of economic development and future growth potential. London is the leading British region, but is only ranked 15th across European regions, lagging behind regions such as Stockholm, the Paris region of Île de France, the south Netherlands and Prague. Spanish, Greek and Central and Eastern European regions are amongst the least competitive.

Across regions in the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China), the hugely resource rich region of Nenets Autonomous Okrug in Russia heads the ranking followed by Shanghai and Beijing in China. Within this bloc, regions in India are found to be by far the least competitive.

In the Middle East, the most competitive economy is Israel, followed by Qatar, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi and the Riyadh region of Saudi Arabia.

According to Professor Huggins:

“Locational competition has shifted to the international stage, with regions and cities becoming key places for understanding changing patterns of geospatial economic development. Our study finds that across all continental blocs there are a relatively small number of standout high-performing regions that compete for investment, jobs and resources. Below these leading regions there is long tail of poorer performers, which indicates the scale of global uneven development.”

“It is clear that regions do not all follow the same strategies and routes to achieving economic competitiveness. Some, like Ulsan in South Korea, Silicon Valley, and to some extent emerging locations such as Brazilian Distrito Federal region have developed a range of strengths, which make them competitive regions not just within their respective nations, but also at a global level. Other regions have taken more specialist approaches to developing their locational capabilities with Tokyo, Prague and Bogotá in Colombia, for example, basing their competitiveness on a relatively narrow set of high value industries.”

Notes for editors:

1. Cardiff School of Planning and Geography is the largest and most active planning school in the UK and has an outstanding record of academic achievement. Its teaching has been rated as ‘excellent’ and the latest government assessment of research in British universities has reinforced its status as the premier academic School of its type in Britain.
The School plays a leading international role in its fields of expertise and its research has an agenda-setting influence in key debates on the development, management and sustainability of cities and regions.
The School’s research is structured around five large research groups and is leading developments in environment; housing; spatial analysis; spatial planning and city environments; and urban and regional governance.

2. Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, University Chancellor Professor Sir Martin Evans. Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise encompasses: the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; the College of Biomedical and Life Sciences; and the College of Physical Sciences, along with a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Cardiff’s four flagship Research Institutes are offering radical new approaches to cancer stem cells, catalysis, neurosciences and mental health and sustainable places.
http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/

##Further details of The Global Competitiveness of Regions can be found here: http://www.cforic.org/pages/the-global-competitiveness-of-regions.php and here http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415859431/

Further information:

Professor Robert Huggins, Chair in Economic Geography
Director, Centre for Economic Geography,

School Planning and Geography, Cardiff University
E-mail: HugginsR@cardiff.ac.uk
Tel: +44 (0)29 208 76006

Catrin Palfrey, Public Relations

Cardiff University

Email: PalfreyC@cardiff.ac.uk

Tel: 029 2087 0752

UK competitiveness increasingly concentrated in London

Since the financial crisis the City of London has become a more important source of competitiveness and future growth for the British economy as a whole. This is one of the findings of the 2013 UK Competitiveness Index report, compiled by Professor Robert Huggins of Cardiff University and Dr Piers Thompson of Nottingham Trent University, which benchmarks the competitiveness of all local authority areas in Britain.

London boroughs account for the top nine most competitive places in Britain, headed by some distance by the City of London, and followed by Westminster, Camden, and Southwark. A number of England’s largest cities – including Bristol, Leeds, Nottingham, Newcastle, Birmingham, and Liverpool – have seen their position improve since the 2010 index, suggesting a continued urban renaissance in these core cities.

In Scotland, Glasgow has also improved its competitiveness, while in Wales, Cardiff has seen its competitiveness fall. Amongst those cities that have improved their position, the most notable is Manchester, with the North West of England region as a whole showing competitiveness improvements.

In the case of the devolved administrations, local authority areas in both Scotland and Wales generally fail to show any overall progress, and are continuing to lose ground. The least competitive locality in Britain is Blaenau Gwent in the South Wales valleys, which has continued to see a continued erosion of its competitiveness.

Blackpool is the lowest ranked locality in England, followed by another coastal locality in the form of Gosport in South East England. In Scotland, the lowest ranked locality is North Ayrshire, which has seen a significant fall in its competitiveness during the period.

In England, the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas in the Greater South East of England are by far the most competitive, led by the Thames Valley Berkshire LEP area, followed by the London LEP area and the Enterprise M3 LEP area (comprising of those localities situated near and along the M3 motorway). At the bottom of the LEP area rankings are the urban economies of the more northern parts of England, with the least competitive being the Black Country LEP area, followed by the Liverpool City Region and the North Eastern LEP area.

According to Professor Huggins:

“The indices suggest continuing economic divergence across Britain. The clearest trend is the increased concentration of Britain’s economic competitiveness and growth capacity within London, in particular the City. During the period following the introduction of regional development agencies (RDAs) in England, competitiveness had begun to become more evenly spread across certain regions. Although Local Enterprise Partnerships were introduced by the coalition government to replace RDAs, they have lacked the funding power of the RDAs, and do not appear to have taken forward some of the improvements in regional economic capacity and capability that were beginning to become apparent prior to their demise.
“Outside of England, there is little to suggest that the economic powers and institutions endowed on Scotland and Wales have allowed their localities to compete any more effectively with their English counterparts. This points to the potential limitations of political institutions in promoting economic development within places ill‐equipped to compete in a post‐industrial economic environment.”

The report concludes that whilst government agencies and devolved political institutions have given the British economy the chance to diversify its competitiveness away from its dependence on the financial sector, this opportunity has not been embraced.

Ends

Notes for editors:
1. Cardiff School of Planning and Geography is the largest and most active planning school in the UK and has an outstanding record of academic achievement. Its teaching has been rated as ‘excellent’ and the latest government assessment of research in British universities has reinforced its status as the premier academic School of its type in Britain.
The School plays a leading international role in its fields of expertise and its research has an agenda-setting influence in key debates on the development, management and sustainability of cities and regions.
The School’s research is structured around five large research groups and is leading developments in environment; housing; spatial analysis; spatial planning and city environments; and urban and regional governance.
2. Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, University President Professor Sir Martin Evans.
Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Three major new Research Institutes, offering radical new approaches to neurosciences and mental health, cancer stem cells and sustainable places were announced by the University in 2010. www.cardiff.ac.uk
##The UK Competitiveness Index uses a composite measure based on the following: Economic activity rate; business start-up rates per 1,000 inhabitants; number of businesses per 1,000 inhabitants; proportion of working age population with NVQ level 4 or higher; proportion of knowledge-based businesses; Gross Value Added per capita; productivity; employment rates; gross weekly pay; and unemployment rates.

A full copy of the report can be freely downloaded at: http://www.cforic.org/pages/ukci2013.php

Further information:

Professor Robert Huggins, Chair in Economic Geography
Director, Centre for Economic Geography,
School Planning and Geography, Cardiff University
E-mail: HugginsR@cardiff.ac.uk
Tel: +44 (0)29 208 76006

Victoria Dando, Public Relations
Cardiff University
Email: DandoV2@cardiff.ac.uk
Tel: 02920 879074