Glasgow top UK location if you want to work for a small business

We've launched our inaugural ‘Top 25 Towns and Cities for SME Jobs’ - revealing the best places in Britain if you want to work for a small business.

10 February 2022
  • We're launching our inaugural ‘Top 25 Towns & Cities for SME Jobs’ - revealing the best places in Britain if you want to work for a small business.

  • Glasgow emerges top of this year's list, which is ranked using a range of criteria including average wage, commute time, house price, job density and growth in the number of small businesses.

  • Manchester and Derby rank second and third on the list respectively, demonstrating the broad spread of opportunities for SME jobs across Britain.

  • Smaller towns and cities feature highly in the top 25, whereas London is missing.

  • With the publication of the Government’s Levelling Up White Paper last week, it’s clear that small businesses - which are responsible for 61% of UK jobs - can play a key role in helping spread prosperity across the country.

Top 25 Towns & Cities for SME Jobs 2022

RankLocal AuthorityCommuting time (mins)Average hourly wageJob densitySME Growth 2016 to 2021Average house price
1Glasgow City29£19.191.0448.60%£185,595
2Manchester29£19.241.1852.86%£203,250
3Derby23£20.120.9837.28%£175,000
4Liverpool29£17.900.8947.65%£145,877
5Newcastle upon Tyne30£18.431.0245.72%£175,000
6Dundee City22£17.670.8549.61%£165,600
7Crawley23£20.481.4248.12%£310,000
8Southampton26£19.910.7762.78%£226,000
9Warrington25£18.631.1842.29%£212,000
10Salford28£17.740.8962.47%£190,000
11Nottingham26£17.310.9642.51%£157,750
12Norwich20£17.571.1144.49%£210,000
13Wakefield22£17.530.836.46%£160,000
14Leeds27£17.921.0239.43%£210,000
15Lincoln20£16.400.946.77%£160,000
16Portsmouth30£17.820.8950.00%£230,000
17Blackburn with Darwen24£16.980.7936.35%£125,000
18Dartford43£20.580.9546.03%£325,000
19St. Helens26£17.870.6232.99%£146,000
20Cambridge26£22.221.4140.00%£446,000
21=Birmingham29£18.700.8235.06%£199,995
21=Luton34£21.040.7834.76%£260,000
23Slough2222.180.9937.16%£342,247
24Cardiff2617.730.9841.92%£229,000
25Worcester2417.740.9539.90%£223,750

Please email press@iwoca.co.uk for the full analysis, more information on the list, or our methodology.

Read our write up of the list below, including the story of business owner Francesca who moved from Italy to Glasgow to start up her Italian catering business.

Glasgow has emerged as the best city to work for a small business in Britain, according to our new research.

Our ‘Top 25 Towns & Cities for SME Jobs’ list, which ranks areas using ONS data on average wage, commute, job density, house price and growth of the number of small businesses, found that Glasgow, Manchester and Derby are the top three areas to consider if you want to work for a small business.

Glasgow topped the list, scoring highly on the shortness of the average commute and the growth of small businesses in the city since 2016. Glaswegians spend on average 29 minutes commuting between work and home, compared to 50 minutes in Richmond upon Thames. Between 2016 and 2021, the number of small businesses in the city increased by 49%. With its burgeoning finance, technology and industrial sectors and plans to build Glasgow Metro, Glasgow is a natural centre for small business jobs in Scotland.

Manchester, a thriving centre for start up business, tech and media, was ranked second on the list, scoring highly in job density, but also ranked fifth in the country for small business growth. The number of small businesses in Manchester grew by 53% between 2016 and 2021.

Derby features third in the top 25, scoring well on commute time and job density. The city boasts a healthy job density, with around 1 job available for every person of working age; workers also spend on average 20 minutes a day commuting to work - the 11th shortest commute in Britain.

London missing from top 25 for small business jobs

Although traditionally seen as the key destination for graduates in the UK and a centre for jobs for the wider workforce, Greater London does not feature in the Top 25. Areas in the capital fall outside the top 150 for growth in small business numbers and in the bottom third for house prices. While workers in Greater London can expect to enjoy higher wages, they are also likely to face some of the longest commute times in the country and higher house prices.

With SMEs accounting for over three fifths of jobs in the UK, and against a backdrop of the so-called ‘Great Resignation’ in 2021, our ‘Top 25 Towns & Cities for SME Jobs’ highlights the spread of geographical opportunities for job seekers that may be looking beyond London for small business jobs in the wake of the pandemic. With the Government’s levelling up White Paper published last week, it is clear that small businesses and the jobs they are bringing can help spread prosperity across the country.

Francesca Cingano, owner of Glasgow-based Italian catering business Cateritaly and producer of EPRONTO Ragù and Meatballs, said: “Moving from Italy to Glasgow in 2014 to set up an Italian catering business was the best decision I have made. I have been overwhelmed by how welcoming the city has been giving our family opportunities, new friends and the perfect environment to start and grow the business. Strangers have gone out of their way to help us solve business problems, commuting around the city is super easy and the council have been incredibly helpful assisting us with health and safety measures, and hiring new apprentices. In this environment, we are excited to continue to grow, scale and hire over the coming years.”

Christoph Rieche, iwoca’s CEO and co-founder said: “The pandemic has fundamentally changed the life choices we make. It has changed the way we work, where we want to be based and has made many people across the country consider if their current career or company they work for is the right one for them.

“The big corporations grab the headlines and have the profile, but it’s the small businesses who are making this country tick. It's really promising to see so many smaller towns and cities feature so prominently in our research of top spots for SME jobs. Britain’s thriving small businesses can be found in all corners of this country, creating jobs that make a real difference to communities, supporting the growth of local economies.”

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Charlotte is a Senior PR & Communications specialist at iwoca. She's been sharing news and insights about the finance industry for over three years.

Article updated on: 3 May 2022

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