Aberdeen is top spot for business starts-ups

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The Independent Online

Aberdeen was the only major UK city to create more businesses than it lost as the UK emerged from recession in 2010, as the hydrocarbon capital of the North Sea benefited from the booming oil price.

The city created a net 80 new businesses in the year, representing 3.7 per 10,000 of its population, as scores of often small, independent, companies flocked there to explore for and produce oil and to offer support services, research has shown.

On a per capita basis, Edinburgh was the next-best performer, losing 2.4 businesses per 10,000 of its population, while London came 27th among Britain's 50 biggest cities, losing 9.6 companies per 10,000 people in 2010 – making a total of 7,535.

Edinburgh and Manchester were the second and third most successful – or least unsuccessful – net generators of businesses, on a per capita basis.

Marc Waterman, partner at UHY Hacker Young, the accountancy group behind the study, said: "The boom in oil prices has seen Aberdeen thrive, not just because of the North Sea, but also because it has become a global centre of excellence for oil services companies.

"London, normally the powerhouse of the UK economy, was clearly hobbled by its over-reliance on the financial sector," Mr Waterman added.

The report shows that new business growth was sent into rapid decline by the financial crisis, falling from a net creation of eight businesses per 10,000 in 2008 to a net loss of 10 per 10,000 people in 2010.

This is despite the fact that business creation in 2010 was 44 per cent higher than in 2009, which saw a net loss of 43,155 businesses and suffered a huge swing from the creation of 46,260 businesses in 2008.

Mr Waterman adds: "UK businesses are not just struggling in the face of reduced demand, but also due to restricted access to credit from banks. The reluctance of banks to lend to businesses, especially SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises], many of whom are perfectly viable, is sending huge numbers into administration."