How ‘Business Friendly’ Regions Benefit Expanding Companies: an East Midlands Case Study

July 1, 2015 12:34 pm
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A business friendly region in a business-friendly country…

Expanding businesses need a beneficial business climate…

When it comes to understanding what makes countries or regions attractive locations for businesses, the prevailing ‘business climate’ is often cited as being of key importance. The term incorporates a range of factors that can influence business success, from economic stability and government support to a location’s tax regime and legal framework.

…and the UK certainly delivers.

There’s little doubt that, nationally, the UK provides a sound business climate for expanding firms. UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) cites ‘a simple and competitive tax rate system’ and ‘a transparent regulatory system’ as two of the country’s key business benefits. It’s a safe, stable place to invest and, with a rate of just 20%, it has the joint-lowest corporation tax of the G20 countries. It may be no surprise, therefore, that the UK is now Europe’s number one destination for foreign direct investment. [1]

But what about the UK’s regions?

Compared with many other major economies, both the tax and legal frameworks in the UK are highly centralised, with relatively little regional variation. One exception is ‘business rates’ – a tax on the occupation of business properties.

Amounting to almost 50% of a business property’s estimated annual rental cost (its ‘rateable value’), business rates represent a significant cost for businesses. Average business rates also vary significantly between England’s regions, making them an important factor to consider when evaluating the attractiveness of UK locations for business expansion.

Average Rateable Values, UK Regional Comparison 2013

English Region Average Rateable Value (GB£)
London 54,028
South East 31,738
North East 31,279
East of England 28,703
West Midlands 26,071
North West 25,654
Yorkshire & Humber 25,283
South West 24,731
East Midlands 24,716

English regional comparison, as 1st April 2013. Source: [2]

As this regional comparison shows, the East Midlands region, in which Ashfield and Mansfield is situated, offers companies the lowest business rates of England’s regions – a full 22% lower than those in the South East.

Planning regimes – another important regional factor

Another important factor influencing the UK’s regional business climates is local planning regimes. According to 2012 research by the London School of Economics [3], planning controls in some of the UK’s major cities deter investing businesses by increasing development costs and discouraging planning applications. In many cases, the underlying cause is a lack of land considered appropriate for development, and voter objections to building on ‘green field’ sites.

Ashfield and Mansfield – available land and ‘business-friendly’ planning

Ashfield and Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, provides an example of a UK location that not only has an extensive portfolio of land available and suitable for development, but also a planning regime that’s committed to supporting business expansion and job creation.

In contrast with some UK locations, the area offers large-scale sites next to existing motorways and major trunk roads, making them ideal for industrial development. Other sites have previously been used for industrial activities, making redevelopment significantly less challenging from the planning perspective.

According to Trevor Watson, Service Director, Economy at Ashfield District Council, Ashfield and Mansfield’s local authorities aim to support businesses ‘throughout the journey, from the initial planning application onwards’, helping them to set up operations in the area in the shortest possible timeframe with the minimum bureaucracy. This ‘can-do’ ethos has resulted both in the attraction of major businesses and industry recognition. This year alone, Ashfield District Council’s Planning and Building Control department has received two prestigious awards from the Royal Town Planning Institute for its pro-active planning approach.

An area that’s ‘open for business’

As everyone in business knows, a ‘business-friendly’ tax and regulatory environment is a key factor in business success. And the message from Ashfield and Mansfield couldn’t be clearer – as well as offering significant costs advantages, the area is committed to making life as easy as possible for expanding companies.

Find Out More

Contact Invest Ashfield and Mansfield for more information about the benefits of locating your business in Ashfield and Mansfield, Notts, UK


[1] (UK government)
[2] HMRC (UK government)
[3] Links Between Planning and Economic Performance, LSE (2012)

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