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The UK Competitiveness Index 2008

Executive Summary

1. This 2008 edition of the UK Competitiveness Index (UKCI) represents a benchmarking of the competitiveness of the UK�s regions and localities.

2.  The top five ranked localities on the UK Competitiveness Index in 2008 are exclusively filled by boroughs of London.

3. The most competitive city in the UK (excluding London, which we designate as a region) is Guildford, followed by St Albans and Cambridge.

4. There have been significant improvements in the competitiveness of many of the UK�s city and urban areas, especially those located in the northern part of the UK.

5. Improving competitiveness in Liverpool, Manchester, and Salford are boosting the economic performance of North West England as a whole.

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The UK Competitiveness Index 2008

6. Other cities that have seen growing competitiveness include Derby, Leicester, Norwich, Peterborough, and Plymouth.

7. Hull, Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland, and Swansea are the UK�s least competitive cities, although with the exception of Swansea all have moved up the local competitiveness rankings.

8. The growing competitiveness of coastal locations such as Bournemouth, Poole, and Torbay suggests that regeneration efforts in these seaside towns are stimulating an improvement in economic fortunes.

9. The most uncompetitive localities in the UK are Blaenau Gwent (Wales), Easington (North East), and Merthyr Tydfil (Wales).

10. It is the UK�s rural economies that have generally seen the biggest fall in competitiveness in recent years.

11. The �Big Three� regions of London, South East England, and Eastern England continue to head the Regional UK Competitiveness Index.

12. The North West is the most improved regional performer rising two places from 8th to 6th on the Regional UKCI.

13. The UK�s most uncompetitive regional economy remains the North East, followed by Wales, Northern Ireland, and Yorkshire and the Humber.

14. In general, the UKCI 2008 results question the validity of stimulating migration from the north to the south of the UK as a realistic mechanism for achieving economic regeneration and development.

15. There is a need to ensure that the system of allocating public finance is revised to reflect future competitiveness needs rather than past spending patterns.

16. Increased efforts should be made at national and regional level to explore how the competitiveness of rural economies can be best promoted in the coming years.


This report represents the 2008 edition of the UK Competitiveness Index (UKCI), which was first introduced and published in 2000. It represents a benchmarking of the competitiveness of the UK�s regions and localities. The UK Competitiveness Index has been designed as an integrated measure of competitiveness focusing on both the development and sustainability of businesses and the economic welfare of individuals. In this respect, we consider competitiveness to consist of the capability of an economy to attract and maintain firms with stable or rising market shares in an activity, while maintaining stable or increasing standards of living for those who participate in it.

This makes clear that competitiveness is not a zero-sum game, and does not rely on the shifting of a finite amount of resources from one place to another. Competitiveness involves the upgrading and economic development of all places together, rather than the improvement of one place at the expense of another. However, competitiveness does involve balancing the different types of advantages that one place may hold over another, i.e. the range of differing strengths that the socio-economic environment affords to a particular place compared to elsewhere.

Since the UK Competitiveness Index was first introduced, the number of indicators and variables constituting the Regional and Local UK Competitiveness Indices has expanded. However, the fundamental methodology underlying them has remained the same. In this report, we publish indices for 2008 (incorporating the most up-to-date data available), as well as those presented in the 2006 report as a means of comparison and examining the UK�s changing competitiveness landscape.

Due to space constraints it has proved impossible to list in full all the regional and local indicators prepared within the report. Therefore, a spreadsheet of the complete datasets is available in conjunction with this report for those interested in obtaining more detailed benchmarking or carrying out further analysis of their own.

The structure of the report is as follows. Chapter 2 reviews the methodology underlying the UK Competitiveness Index, with Chapter 3 presenting an overview of the main results from the Local and Regional Indices. Chapter 4 overviews the key indicators comprising the Regional Index, with Chapter 5 focusing on those indicators underlying the Local Index. Chapter 6 presents some final concluding remarks on the findings for UKCI 2008.


The UK Competitiveness Index 2008 contains over 50 pages and complete Excel spreadsheets of both Regional and Local benchmarks. Please visit our Downloads section to obtain the 2008 report.


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