Norwich, Cambridge and Ipswich all rank among Britain’s top 25 towns and cities for business, according to a new study.

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Cambridge is ranked top out of 74 urban centres outside London in the Santander Corporate and Commercial Banking UK Town and City Index, with Norwich in 22nd place and Ipswich in 24th.

The rankings are based on 20 factors which drive private sector business competitiveness, which the report groups into the five broad headings of Enterprise, Talent, Connectivity, Costs and Well-being.

Norwich was ranked 17th for Well-being, 19th for Enterprise and 25th for Talent, but its overall standing suffered as a result of being placed only equal 44th for Costs and equal 55th for Connectivity.

Ipswich received its highest ranking, 14th, for Connectivity, which is based on broadband speeds. It was also in the top half for Costs including house prices and Council Tax (equal 21st), Enterprise including sectoral diversity and business start-up and survival rates (23rd), and Well-being including earnings and satisfaction (26th).

However, the town’s overall position was dragged down by being ranked only in 60th place in terms of Talent, covering unemployment, the proportion of people with NVQ4 qualifications and the proportion with no qualifications.

Nationally, Cambridge emerged as the UK’s top town or city outside London for business competitiveness, ahead of its long-term academic rival Oxford in second place and Edinburgh in third.

Cambridge was ranked top for both Enterprise and Talent, equal seventh for Connectivity and ninth for Well-being, its lowest position being equal 27th in terms of Costs.

The other East of England locations included in the study were Southend (ranked 31st overall), Peterborough (35th) and Luton (46th).

Completing the top rankings nationally, occupying fourth to 10th places respectively, were Crawley, Worthing, Brighton, Reading, Aldershot, Bristol and Solihull.

At the other end of the scale, Sunderland was ranked last in 74th place, with the bottom five being completed, in ascending order, by Barnsley, Oldham, Walsall and Middlesbrough.

A similar study of the 32 London boroughs saw Westminster placed first, Kensington and Chelsea second and Richmond upon Thames third.

Martyn Dawson, regional director for Santander Corporate and Commercial, said: “The future of the economy depends on our businesses and their success and growth.

“Ipswich has many of the key ingredients that help to support its business community and will have an important role to play in its future success.”

The study was conducted by Professor Francis Greene from the Birmingham Business School at the University of Birmingham,

He said: “This report utilises an extensive range of official data to build a unique picture of the UK, examining the business ‘building blocks’ that help make a town more or less business competitive.”

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