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The ten best cities to do business in the UK

Top cities in the uk to do business

Location, location, location – was the business mantra of the 20th Century.

Success so often depended on where you decided to do business but the internet and a logistics revolution means location is less important now.

However, where to do business in Brexit Britain is still important, so here are the best 10 places to do business in the UK.

We have looked at business survival rates, internet download speeds, office rents, skilled workers, productivity and the city’s track record over the last ten years. We have looked at the Government’s latest Centre For Cities paper, research from IT company Sungard Availability Services among other sources.


A city of foppish types riding around on bikes with their heads in the clouds? Wrong.

It is now a city of the brightest young things excelling in a multitude of high-tech industries and the closest the UK has to a Silicon Valley. Cambridge comes out on top in so many different rankings, it has one of the world’s best universities with a steady stream of talented graduates. It is a centre for scientific research and has a plenty of business support schemes. A third of Cambridge’s jobs are knowledge-intensive, and its jobs market has seen the population increase twice as fast as the national average over 10 years. It’s business start-up survival rate is an impressive 65.2% and employment rate is 77.6% and office price per square foot is £129.7.


The business powerhouse which keeps the entire nation afloat? Right.

The capital has a third more businesses than in 2004, and a whopping 750,000 new jobs created over 10 years, an 18 per cent increase. And a million more people now live in London than in 2004, that is like Derby, Coventry, Hull and York all being added to the capital. The sheer amount of people, money and opportunities mean that it makes sense to do business in London. The City of London alone creates a mind-boggling amount of revenue for the country, and if finance is part of your business, then London is the place to be. The very high-skilled workforce, one in two have a degree, make the city an investment hotspot. The downside of course is how do the workforce afford to live there? The latest business figures show it has more businesses per head than anywhere else 519 per 100,000.


The oil boomtown wedded to yesteryear’s fossil fuel miracle? Wrong

The Granite City had the fastest growth in business stock of any city in the UK over the over ten years until 2014. There are 40% more businesses today than 13 years ago, and it is not all wedded to new oil technology. It’s energy sector is expanding but other industries reliant

on research are doing well too. The latest figures show jobs have increased by 8% in the last ten years and population has risen by 9%. The GVA per worker in Aberdeen £61,600 per year, one of the highest in the country.

Milton Keynes

A London overspill built to ensure it will remain boring? Wrong.

By many indicators Milton Keynes has been Britain’s fastest growing city when it comes to businesses and jobs. It’s population is over 18% bigger now than 15 years ago, and there re over 25,000 jobs more than 2004. The local council is about as pro-business as an authority can be offering several pro-business schemes designed to attract and keep companies in Milton Keynes. Often laughed at for its lack of culture the city is now showing a new side with thriving arts scene, and because houses are being constantly built compared to the rest of the South-East of England house prices are cheaper. The GVA per worker in Milton Keynes is £63,700.


A city of dreaming spires where reliance on academia is at the expense of business? Wrong

With one of the best universities in the world, the city is renowned for its academic prowess but in recent years it has been busy rebranding itself as CyberOxford. Business start-up survival rate is 59.6%, employment rate 75.6% and office price per squre foot is £181.60. Oxford has a high proportion of workers in professional, managerial and associate positions ensuring wages remain high, however, the city has a housing crisis akin to London.


There is a reason why people fear being sent to Coventry, right? Well yes but Wrong.

Coventry? On a list of the best places to business in Britain? Surely some mistake. Well, no because Coventry could easily win the mantle of business miracle of this century. The tower block spiked city whose theme song is Ghost Town by its greatest export The Specials was dying in the 1990s. But a proactive council, chamber of commerce and LEP having long-term plans which worked means it recently ranked ninth nationally for business stock growth, and seventh in the UK for jobs growth over a 10-year period, with nearly 12,000 additional jobs. And a little matter of HS2 and the nearby Jaguar and Land Rover plant means there are plenty of jobs on the horizon. The latest figures also revealed it had the fourth highest number of patents granted in the UK.


Massive Attack, Swampy and hipsters before hipsters became a thing? That’s it. Wrong.

Bristol is second to London in population density with 4,000 people per square kilometre and also has the most expensive office rents in the UK behind London, at £220.80. However,

employment rates are high, and people like living in Bristol. They tend to stay there so the talent pool is good. The business start-up survival rate is 60.6% and has the tenth highest rate of start ups per 10,000 people in the UK.


Whippets, ferrets and the cast of Emmerdale lording it over everyone? Wrong.

Leeds is the student capital of the UK, with four universities churning out eager and clever students into the workplace. With the abundance of talent on tap combined with cheap rents (£110.50 per square foot) Leeds is great place to start a business. The banking industry like the city as well with its financial sector making it the cock of the North. The business start-up survival rate is 60.2%.


For history-lovers but can’t even get its act together to reopen the Viking Museum? Wrong.

For a historic city, York is looking towards the future, it recently ranks top of the list for start-up survivals, its start up survival rate is 68.1%. The city has a well integrated infrastructure and also high university graduate numbers ensuring the talent pool is impressive. And its office rents are rock bottom, just £90 per square foot. The city also has a low crime rate, which is always music to business ears.


Britain’s greenest city has to be bad for business surely? Wrong

Brighton basks in the reflected glory of London, it is close enough to live in one and work in the other. The employment rate is 71.9% but office price per square foot is £202.20. There are plans afoot to redevelop its conference centre and attract more businesses to the city, which has a turbulent council with Labour, the Greens and the Tories all running city hall recently.

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