A medieval market town in Gloucestershire has topped a list of the UK's strongest local economies, which are likely to recover the fastest from the havoc wreaked by the coronavirus pandemic.
According to a research by savings platform Raisin UK, which examines which local economy is best suited to cope with COVID-related challenges, there is a "clear divide" between the North and South of the UK.
Local economies in the South of the country appear to be doing better than those in the North, with all 10 of the strongest economies all in the South of the UK.
The study is based on the number of large businesses, business survival rate, birth and death rates, rate of people in employment, amount of the population receiving income support and the average government spend per head in those cities and towns.
Tewkesbury comes out on top based on a mix of birth rates, employability and business prosperity. Of all its residents, 79.9% are in work, while local businesses have seen a 10% rise in growth since 2015.
Winchester in Hampshire bagged the second spot, with 78.7% of its residents employed, it's also had a 21% increase in large businesses since 2015, as well as one of the highest business survival rates within 5 years (50%).
Bristol rounded up the top three, with an 8.3% rise in large businesses within the past 5 years, with over 175 new large businesses being started and staying successful over the five-year period. The city also had 79.9% of its population employed, with only 6% of them accessing welfare support. This is more than the national average.
Cornwall is also a region that’s thriving, with a 29% uplift of growth in its population and businesses booming by 4.5% over the past five years.
Seaside towns, which have been hammered by the crisis as tourism and travel was shuttered for most of the year since March 2020, leaving many local businesses struggling to survive.
Blackpool has seen trade grind to a halt since the onset of the pandemic. Meanwhile, in Great Yarmouth, there were 8% fewer large businesses in operation than there were six years ago.
The study also showed that while the capital might be home to some billion-pound companies and some of the strongest economies in the UK (it's boroughs of Havering, Sutton and Hackney), it is also home to more people receiving benefits than anywhere else in the UK.
Over 7.7% of London’s population receives monthly financial support from the government, more than North East England (7.3%), the North West (6.3%), and the West Midlands (5.7%).
Despite that, London’s employment rate sits at 75.4%, showing the disparity between rich and poor in the city.
The South West has the highest rate of employment, with 79.9% of the population employed, despite the area seeing a 22% decrease in large businesses throughout 2019.
But, London has also seen a rise, with its boroughs coming together to see a growth of 7% throughout the capital, meaning boroughs such as Hackney and Sutton have some of the strongest local economies in the UK overall.
At the other end of the index, it’s bad news for Hartlepool, which topped the weakest local economies list. The Durham town has seen a steady rate of decline in large businesses, with 4% fewer operating currently compared to 2015.
In March the UK government announced that it will give local English tourism hotspots a £56m ($77.4m) "welcome back" boost, to help them reopen as coronavirus restrictions are eased.
The package announced by housing and communities secretary, Robert Jenrick, will help coastal towns and high streets.
The money will allow local councils to improve the "look and feel" of areas with renovations of green spaces, expansion of outdoor seating and an increase in markets and pop-up food stalls.
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