Coastal towns see highest rates of business failures

11 April 2011

•   Four of bottom five towns and cities for business creation are seaside
•   Just two major cities created more businesses than they lost
•   UK sees net loss of 43,155 businesses in 2009
•   London slips from top to 24th in just one year

Seaside towns saw the highest rate of business closures in the UK during the recession reveals our latest research.

The research, which ranks the Top 50 towns and cities by their ability to create new businesses, found that four of the five lowest ranking areas were seaside towns – Poole (50th out of 50), Southend-on-Sea (49th), Preston (48th), and Blackpool (47th). (See league table below)

Even major seaside towns such as Bournemouth (45th out of 50) and Southampton (44th), both previously seen as hotbeds of business creation, fared poorly with Bournemouth losing a net 260 businesses, while Southampton lost a net 265.

Coastal town Poole (50th) fared the worst, swinging from a creation of six businesses per 10,000 people in 2008, to losing almost 24 businesses per 10,000 population in 2009. 

Our specialists explain that seaside towns lack the economic diversity of larger cities and are still too reliant on tourism.

Marc Waterman, partner in our London office, comments: “Seaside towns have never recovered from the collapse of their traditional maritime and tourist industries. Whilst these towns have tried to diversify their economies from reliance on a dwindling tourist spend that diversification has been a mixed success.”

“For example, where they have won financial services jobs those have often been in back office work that is seen as adding little value.”

Marc gives the case of Barclays huge payment processing centre in Poole that has seen successive waves of redundancies as those jobs have been offshored or removed through the use of IT.

According to our specialists, the reliance of seaside towns on consumer spending caused huge difficulties as consumers cut back as the recession took hold.

Marc Waterman explains: “Despite the hopeful idea of the “staycation” the British tourist industry did not do well from the recession.”

“Any bounce from the staycation was wiped out by the cancellation of business conferences, exhibitions and seminars that seaside towns would normally do very well from. Businesses, like consumers, reigned in discretionary spending during the recession and those seaside towns who relied on their business suffered.”

Other research has highlighted the high levels of personal insolvency that UK seaside towns have suffered from - showing the underlying fragility of those economies and the low levels of accumulated wealth in those towns.

Only two major towns created more businesses than they lost

Oxford and Aberdeen were the only major cities to create more businesses than they lost in 2009 according to our research. Aberdeen led the UK in business creation, producing 50 more businesses than it lost, while Oxford created a net 15 new businesses. 

Our research also revealed that the UK swung from a net creation of eight businesses per 10,000 people in 2008 to a net loss of seven businesses per 10,000 population in 2009.

The number of businesses closing outstripped that of new businesses being created, resulting in a net loss of 43,155 businesses in 2009 (latest data available). This compares to a net creation of 46,260 businesses in 2008.

Marc Waterman, comments: “These figures reveal the true extent of the damage caused by the recession to the UK economy.”

Our specialists say that a large number of business closures during the recession were start-ups and other small enterprises.

Marc Waterman explains: “Smaller businesses in particular had a torrid time with banks reluctant to lend to businesses with few assets. Banks are still reluctant to reassess the level of risk associated with lending to start-ups, making it very difficult for new businesses to access funding.”

“Those who were able to access finance were doing so despite some incredibly stringent conditions. In some cases company directors were required to provide personal guarantees, such as their homes and cars, as part of the loan agreement.”

“With 99% of the British economy made up of SMEs, it is imperative that the Government ensures that small businesses receive the funding and support they require to avoid the economy falling back into recession.”

There is a risk that the scrapping of the regional development agencies (RDAs), which help with the development and efficiency of local businesses, could make things worse.

London hit hard by financial sector slowdown

London, the UK’s number one City for new business creation in 2008, tumbled down the league table this year as a result of the slowdown in the financial sector.  Our research revealed that London lost six businesses per 10,000 people in 2009, losing 4,525 more businesses than it created.

Marc Waterman explains: “The capital’s ability to create new businesses was severely impacted during the recession. As well as the funding implications, the cost of starting a new business in London is considerably higher than in other parts of the country.”

Top 50 towns and cities in UK by new business creation

RankTowns and CitiesNet new businesses
2008
Net new businesses per 10,000 pop
2008
Net new businesses
2009
Net new businesses per 10,000 pop
2009
1 Aberdeen 275 13.1 50 2.3
2 Oxford 215 14.7 15 1.0
3 Dundee 30 2.1 -10 -0.7
4 Edinburgh 345 7.3 -50 -1.0
5 Manchester 440 1.7 -395 -1.5
6 Middlesbrough 70 5.0 -25 -1.8
7 Telford 70 4.3 -40 -2.5
8 Norwich 60 4.4 -45 -3.2
9 Luton 220 11.5 -65 -3.3
10 Bradford 225 4.5 -175 -3.5
11 West Bromwich 165 5.7 -115 -4.0
12 York 175 9.0 -80 -4.0
13 Wolverhampton 100 4.2 -100 -4.2
14 Huddersfield 140 3.5 -175 -4.3
15 Glasgow 345 5.9 -265 -4.5
16 Sunderland -25 -0.9 -130 -4.6
17 Swindon 215 11 -100 -5.0
18 Ipswich 25 2.0 -65 -5.1
19 Northampton 135 6.5 -110 -5.2
20 Newcastle 240 8.6 -150 -5.3
21 Dudley 170 5.6 -165 -5.4
22 Plymouth 120 4.7 -140 -5.5
23 Milton Keynes 425 18.2 -130 -5.5
24 London 17,245 22.5 -4,525 -5.8
25 Peterborough 55 3.2 -100 -5.8
26 Belfast 425 15.8 -160 -6.0
  Average Top 50 24,465 10.2 -14,570 -6.1
27 Nottingham 70 2.4 -185 -6.2
28 Swansea -90 -3.9 -150 -6.5
  UK AVERAGE 46,260 7.5 -43,155 -7.0
29 Cardiff 140 4.2 -240 -7.1
30 Bristol 395 9.3 -310 -7.2
31 Leeds 295 3.8 -585 -7.4
32 Hull 70 2.7 -125 -7.5
33 Coventry 205 6.6 -250 -8.0
34 Liverpool 335 7.6 -355 -8.0
35 Derby 50 2.1 -205 -8.4
36 Birmingham 200 2.0 -910 -8.8
37 Portsmouth 100 5.0 -185 -9.1
38 Reading 120 8.0 -140 -9.2
39 Sheffield -115 -2.1 -510 -9.3
40 Leicester 185 6.1 -285 -9.4
41 Stoke-on-Trent 15 0.6 -235 -9.8
42 Stockport 220 7.8 -315 -11.1
43 Walsall 0 0.0 -285 -11.1
44 Southampton 55 2.3 -265 -11.2
45 Bournemouth 80 4.9 -260 -15.8
46 Bolton 90 3.4 -435 -16.4
47 Blackpool 60 4.3 -230 -16.4
48 Preston 20 1.5 -230 -17.1
49 Southend-on-Sea -30 -1.8 -295 -18.0
50 Poole 90 6.4 -335 -23.7

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As an extension to your business, we can replace or supplement your existing support function.
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Academy schools update: January 2014

Our most recent academy schools update concentrates on important changes to the education services grant, Value for Money, Academies Capital Maintenance Fund and more.
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Charity and not-for-profit

Download our brochure for details of how we provide comprehensive charity audit and accounting services, allowing you to focus on meeting the core objectives of your charity.
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UHY's comments on the Exposure Draft Charities SORP

In July 2013, the Charity Commission issued an exposure draft of the new ‘Charities Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP): Accounting and Reporting by Charities’ for consultation. The new SORP will have a significant effect on the future of UK financial accounting and reporting for charities and other not-for-profit organisations. We at UHY Hacker Young are well aware of this and, therefore, submitted our comments to the Charity Commission during the consultation period.
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UHY International Business issue 28

The latest issue of our twice-yearly publication featuring articles on current business affairs in countries and business cultures around the world.
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Taxflash: Mileage rates - December 2013

HMRC regularly publish approved ‘fuel only’ rates which have, again, changed.
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Research and Development Tax Relief

Research and development tax relief is an incentive from the government to encourage companies to invest in research and development activities. There is a common misconception that these incentives are aimed only at the technology sector, however, that is certainly not the case. This document outlines how research and development tax relief is more widely available than most companies realise.
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