Slough’s business stock grew 29pc in the five years to 2014 Photo: Alamy
Slough is attracting new business at a faster rate than anywhere else in the UK, growing its corporate presence by 29pc in the five years to 2014. The Berkshire town is also the country’s fastest-growing city. Its population ballooned by a fifth between 2004 and 2014, and Slough is one of three cities with productivity levels a third higher than the national average. The charm could be wearing off, however. Slough was one of five cities to see a reduction in the number of private sector jobs in 2014, reporting a 3.5pc decline, the steepest fall across the country. [embedded content] Northampton looks to be taking over as the strongest performer, growing its business stock by 11pc in 2014 following a campaign to position the East Midlands town as an enticing alternative to London. Behind London, Northampton also has the highest per capita start-up rate in the UK, fostering more than 80 start-ups for every 10,000 people. The capital was home to 100.1 start-ups per population of 10,000 in 2014, according to an annual report from the think tank Centre for Cities, which examines the economic health of the UK’s 63 largest cities. For the second year in a row since the recession, start-ups outpaced closures in all UK cities. [embedded content] Northampton – once the shoe manufacturing capital of Britain – is home to Carlsberg’s UK office, Barclaycard’s headquarters and the Mercedes F1 engine plant as well as a burgeoning tech scene. The city had the second strongest employment rate in the UK as of June 2015, with 78.6pc of residents in jobs, behind Aldershot with 83.4pc. Cambridge, Bristol and Aberdeen rounded out the five best cities for employment. However, the report found that Northampton businesses tended to be less successful, giving the city a churn rate more than twice as high as the UK average. In 2014, for every 10,000 people living in Northampton, 80.6 companies were started and 38 were closed, resulting in a churn rate of 11.7. The nationwide churn rate – which is calculated by taking the difference between start-ups and closures as a percentage of total business stock – is 4.5, rising to 7.5 in London. [embedded content] Northampton’s workers also suffered the second-biggest fall in pay, with weekly salaries dropping £16 in real terms between 2014 and 2015, behind Stoke’s £56 decline. Overall, the report found that although 980,000 new jobs were created in UK cities between 2010-14, urban wages fell by 5pc in the same period – making a £1,300 dent in the average city dweller’s annual salary in real terms.