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The UK Competitiveness Index 2013

Executive Summary

1. This 2013 edition of the UK Competitiveness Index (UKCI) represents a benchmarking of the competitiveness of the UK’s localities, including its cities.

2. Overall, localities in 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. The index score for the City of London, which has risen by 85.2 points between the two periods, indicates that it is has become increasingly important to the UK’s competitiveness in recent years.

3. The biggest climber since 2010 is the relatively small locality of Rossendale in the North West of England. Greenwich and Barking and Dagenham are the next biggest climbers, forming part of five localities from the Greater South East of London within the top ten climbers.

4. At the top of the city rankings is Cambridge, which moves up three places from its 2010 ranking and surpasses St Albans, which falls four places to 5th. Amongst those cities that have improved their position, the most notable is Manchester, which has risen from 16th position in 2010 to 10th place in 2013.

5. A number of England’s largest cities – including Bristol, Leeds, Nottingham, Newcastle, Birmingham, and Liverpool – have seen their position improve, suggesting a continued urban renaissance in these core cities. In Scotland, Glasgow has also improved from 23rd position in 2010 to 16th in 2013. In Wales, however, Cardiff has fallen from 17th to 24th position.

6. From a regional perspective, localities in London and South East England lead the way, followed by the East of England. Localities in London have shown by far the greatest relevant improvement, rising by 3 points. Apart from localities in London, only those in the North West of England show any overall improvement.

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The UK Competitiveness Index 2013

7. In the case of the devolved administrations, localities in both Scotland and Wales fail to show any overall progress, and are continuing to lose ground.

8. The least competitive locality in Britain is Blaenau Gwent in the South Wales valleys, which has continued to see an 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.

9. The biggest fallers from the 2010 index are Rushcliffe in the East Midlands (dropping 128 places), followed by Harlow in the East of England (dropping 127 places) and South Staffordshire in the West Midlands (dropping 126 places).

10. 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).

11. At the bottom of the LEP area rankings are the post‐industrial 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.

12. Change between the 2010 and 2013 indices suggest continuing economic divergence across Britain, with the standard deviation in scores across all localities increasing from 32.8 to 36.9

Introduction

This report represents the 2013 edition of the UK Competitiveness Index (UKCI), which was first introduced and published in 2000. The UKCI provides a benchmarking of the competitiveness of the UK’s localities1, and it has been designed to be an integrated measure of competitiveness focusing on both the development and sustainability of businesses and the economic welfare of individuals. In this respect, competitiveness is considered 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.

The above definition 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.

This report publishes competitiveness indices that incorporate the most up‐to‐date data available in 2013, as well as an updated version of the indices presented in the 2010 report, which provides a means of comparison and an examination the UK’s changing competitiveness landscape.

The following sections of the report present an analysis of some of the key findings the 2013 UKCI. For those readers interested in the score and rank of a particular locality or localities they may wish to refer directly to Appendix 1, which provides a ranked order list of all localities, and/or Appendix 2, which ranks localities within
their relevant regional grouping.

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