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The UK Competitiveness Index 2016

Executive Summary

1. This 2016 edition of the UK Competitiveness Index (UKCI) represents a benchmarking of the competitiveness of the UK�s localities, including its cities, and Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas and the equivalent city regions in the devolved regions of Wales and Scotland.
2. Overall, it is found that 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 Islington. However, unlike in previous years the City of London has not increased its competitiveness potentially reflecting a reduced reliance on London for recovery and on-going economic development.
3. The biggest climber since 2013 is Gosport in the South East of England. However, it is the only top ten climber located in London or South East England. Corby in the East Midlands and Babergh in the East of England are the next biggest climbers. More generally, there is evidence of many localities in England improving their competitiveness.
4. Aberdeen is the most competitive city based on the latest available data, although its competitiveness has fallen since 2013 as the North Sea oil sector has declined due to falling global oil prices. Displaying consistency with the increased competitiveness for Gosport on the South Coast, Southampton is one of the fasted improving cities.
5. 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.
6. As well as the strong performance of Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh in Scotland continue to improve their competitiveness. In 2016 all three larger cities in Scotland are now above the UK average competitiveness.
7. From a regional perspective, localities in London and South East of England lead the way, followed by the West Midlands. Between 2013 and 2016 all regions in Great Britain have improved relative to the UK average mainly due to the poor performance of Northern Ireland. The North East has seen one of the largest improvements.
8. Scottish localities have performed more strongly in the latest figures, whilst Welsh localities continue to perform more weakly and have seen an overall fall in their rankings.
9. The least competitive locality in Britain is Blaenau Gwent in the South Wales valleys, which although seeing a slight improvement in its competitiveness lags the next least competitive locality by a margin. Boston has replaced Blackpool as the least competitive locality in England.
10. The biggest fallers from the 2013 index are Maldon in the East of England (dropping 99 places), followed by Richmondshire in Yorkshire and Humber (dropping 65 places) and Nuneaton and Bedworth in the West Midlands (dropping 59 places).
11. 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. In the 2016 index the city regions of Wales and Scotland have also been benchmarked against the English LEP areas, with Aberdeen City Region the third most competitive of these areas.
12. 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.
13. Considering sectoral and labour market influences, those areas more dependent on manufacturing seem to continue to lose competitiveness, whilst those with higher employment in senior management positions have also lost competitiveness potentially reflecting an organisational delayering in large businesses and institutions.

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The UK Competitiveness Index 2013


This report represents the 2016 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 localities 1 , 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 2016, as well as an up-dated version of the indices presented in the 2013 report, which provides a means of comparison and an examination of the UK�s changing competitiveness landscape. The following sections of the report present an analysis of some of the key findings of the 2016 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.


The UK Competitiveness Index 2016 contains over 60 pages and is available for Download

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