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The UK Competitiveness Index 2010

Executive Summary

1. This 2010 edition of the UK Competitiveness Index (UKCI) represents a benchmarking of the competitiveness of the UK�s regions and localities.

2. For the first time since the UKCI�s inception London is no longer the UK�s most competitive regional economy, and is displaced by South East England.

3. The East of England displays increasing competitiveness compared to the UK average, consolidating its position as the third most competitive region in the UK.

4. Wales is now the least competitive economy having fallen behind the North East of England.

5. Since 1997 North West England is the region which has shown the greatest improvement in competitiveness.

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The UK Competitiveness Index 2010

6. Since 1997 the region to experience the largest fall in relative competitiveness is Scotland.

7. The most competitive large city in the UK is Edinburgh, followed by Bristol and Manchester.

8. The least competitive large city in the UK is Liverpool, followed by Birmingham and Sheffield.

9. The most competitive �city� in the UK (excluding London) is Guildford, followed by St Albans and Winchester.

10. The city which has seen the greatest improvement in competitiveness in recent years is Exeter, followed by Norwich.

11. The least competitive city in the UK is Kingston upon Hull, followed by Stoke-on-Trent and Sunderland.

12. With a mix of high and low competitiveness boroughs, London�s development is becoming increasingly marred as a result of its dual economy.

13. There appears to be continuing evidence of the positive impact of urban regeneration programmes on city competitiveness, but rural areas appear to be performing less well.

14. Comparing the UKCI with emissions of carbon dioxide suggests that there are both high and low carbon intensity paths to competitiveness.

15. South East England and the East of England regions have the greatest proportion of low carbon-intensive competitive localities.

16. Women based in more competitive localities tend to work longer hours.

17. A lower number of people in competitive economies report poor health.

18. The number of creative workers is strongly related to the competitiveness of a locality.


This report represents the 2010 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 2010 (incorporating the most up-to-date data available), as well as those presented in the 2008 report (where comparable) as a means of comparison and examining the UK�s changing competitiveness landscape. In this election year, comparisons are also made with the 1997 version of the UK Competitiveness Index.

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 Chapters 3, 4 and 5 presenting an overview of the main results from the Regional, City and Local Indices respectively. Chapter 6 examines the relationship between population density and the UK Competitiveness Index in more detail. Chapter 7 explores the relationship between competitiveness and a range of factors relating to sustainability and wellbeing. Chapter 8 considers one potential source of competitiveness - the human capital held by creative workers, and the importance of retaining such workers in a locality in order to remain competitive. Chapter 9 presents some final concluding remarks on the findings for UKCI 2010.


The UK Competitiveness Index 2010 contains over 40 pages and complete Excel spreadsheets of both Regional and Local benchmarks. Please visit our Downloads section to obtain the 2010 report.

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