More needs to be done to encourage entrepreneurship in UK’s ‘Celtic fringe’

Publications that covered this story include The Times in Scotland on 14 August and the Financial Times on 11 November.
  • 18 out of bottom 20 areas for new business births are in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
  • Lack of support is damaging economic growth in these areas

18 out of the bottom 20 areas for new business births in the UK are located in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, showing that much more needs to be done to encourage new business growth in the ‘Celtic fringe’.

Areas in Northern Ireland fared worst for new business creation, with an average of 29 new businesses created per 10,000 population. Scottish areas followed with an average of 37, while Welsh areas averaged 40. English areas performed significantly better, at an average of 53 (see table below).

The bottom four areas for new businesses are all located in Wales. The Vale of Glamorgan had just 16 new business births per 10,000 population, making it the worst-performing of 360 areas in the UK, compared to 50 on average across the UK, and 64 in London.

The worst-performing areas for new business creation in England were St. Helens on the outskirts of Liverpool (26 new businesses per 10,000 population) and rural Torridge on the north Devon coast (30).

A lack of support from the government has resulted in fewer start-ups in the Celtic fringe – and more needs to be done to facilitate new business and economic growth.

Lots of Government support has been given to hubs such as the so-called ‘Silicon Roundabout’ cluster of technology businesses around London’s Old Street, and the Northern Powerhouse project. The Government’s new commitment to Northern Ireland also needs to be sustained over the long term. However, support for Scotland and Wales has been far less visible.

Greater tax incentives could persuade more entrepreneurs to start businesses in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, as has been done in the Northern Powerhouse’s enterprise zones.

Colin Jones, partner in our London office, says: “The Celtic Fringe needs support in order to encourage new business growth – the potential in these areas needs to be properly harnessed.”

“Areas in the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ receive significant investment from the UK Government in support for new businesses, and now the same needs to happen in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.”

“It is important that any future investment by the UK government into new business creation is evenly spread throughout the country, rather than just a few select areas.”

Bottom 20 areas for new business creation dominated by ‘Celtic fringe’

*Year-end December 2015