Greater Lincolnshire startup survival rates worst in UK, study finds

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Greater Lincolnshire is the worst economic area in the country for business survival rates after three years, according to a study by Enterprise Research Centre.

The annual UK Local Growth Dashboard provides the most comprehensive picture of growth among small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs), which make up 99% of all UK firms.

It has shown Coventry as the best location for creating jobs and Belfast and Aberdeen for growing a multimillion-pound turnover.

However, the rate of three year business survival of firms founded in 2012 in Greater Lincolnshire has fallen to the bottom of the list with less than half (47%) surviving until 2015.

Greater Lincolnshire is the only economic area to fall under the 50% line with North East Scotland at the top, marking a 64.1% success rate.

In addition, the county is the third lowest economic area for firms with 10 or more employees recording 20% or more growth in employment every year over three years from 2012-15. Only 6.1% of Greater Lincolnshire firms did so, narrowly improving on the Humber at 6%. The results show the lowest area to be Black Country with 5.2%.

Chief Executive of the Lincolnshire Co-operative Ursula Lidbetter. Photo Steve Smailes for Lincolnshire Business

Chief Executive of the Lincolnshire Co-operative Ursula Lidbetter. Photo Steve Smailes for Lincolnshire Business

Ursula Lidbetter, Chair of the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “It is no surprise to see that high-growth businesses in most rural areas in the country perform less well than their equivalent city-based businesses.

“Our economy in Greater Lincolnshire tends to be more traditional than many city areas; this gives us the advantage of being less prone to economic shocks, booms or busts, but also means generally lower growth than our more urban counterparts.

“With regard to survival rates, we are aware that while we have some very strong areas of high growth and longer term business survival, the large, rural and dispersed nature of the Greater Lincolnshire area means there are still particular locations which struggle and require enhanced intervention, which we support through targeted growth programmes.

“The Greater Lincolnshire LEP has established the Business Lincolnshire Growth Hub which has dedicated business advisors, start-up and growth programmes, grant schemes and events tailored to support businesses on their growth journey.

“We are also working hard to attract inward investment and funding and have already attracted £146.2 million of growth-related funding to the area which, alongside specifically targeted sector development including innovation centres and three Food Enterprise Zones, will generate higher growth businesses alongside our more traditional industries.”

The results come just under a year after Lincoln was voted the sixth best city to start up a new business, based on eight different categories; commercial property, energy, virtual office services, public transport, broadband service, workforce demographics, access to finance and quality of life.

Justin Brown, Enterprise Commissioner for Lincolnshire County Council, said: “Reports like this always need to be taken with a pinch of salt. It was not that long ago that Lincoln was hailed as the best place to start and grow a business.

“There are a number of reasons that a business might not ‘survive’ – for example they could be acquired by or merge with another firm, they could move elsewhere or they simply could choose to close.

“So I suspect the picture is actually more complex than that being presented.”

The recent Quarterly Economic Survey also showed that businesses in the county were feeling confident about the future.

Justin continued: “19% of respondents were confident of increasing their turnover in the next 12 months, and 19% expected to increase their workforce in the next quarter.”

“When you also take into account the infrastructure improvements and investment we’re seeing across the county, I believe Lincolnshire remains a good place to do business.”