SOUTHAMPTON has been declared the best city in the UK for independent businesses.

The recognition comes in a report which described the city as “the perfect location for would-be business owners”.

More than 800,000 new businesses have been registered nationwide since 2018-19, according to Bionic, the comparison service for businesses which compiled the data.

The report scored 50 cities against nine metrics including the number of start-ups and their survival rate.

The report gave Southampton a score of 74 out of 100, ahead of York (70), Bristol (66), Northampton (66) and Swindon (64).

The research found Southampton had 76.6 start-ups per 10,000 of its population as of 2019. Forty-two per cent of start-ups survived their first five years.

New businesses made up 21.4 per cent of active businesses as of 2019 and the number which folded made up 10.1 per cent of active businesses.

It found 92 per cent of small businesses were active, with 372 active businesses per 10,000 of population.

The report said: “The data revealed that Southampton has a whopping 91.98 per cent active small businesses in the UK, putting it just behind London.

“Southampton also featured among the UK cities with the highest number of business start-ups per capita, with 79 of them for every 10,000 people.

“Starting a new business is certainly at the forefront of people’s minds in Southampton. Since 2019 small businesses have been popping up all over Southampton, such as Porter’s Wine and Charcuterie, a wine bar situated on Queen’s Terrace.

“Google search volume data also found there has been a whopping 100 per cent search increase in the last 12 months for people searching ‘small businesses in Southampton’.”

Peter Taylor, president of Hampshire Chamber and managing partner of Southampton law firm Paris Smith, said: “This report reflects what many of us feel who live and work in the city  It is founded on a number of diverse metrics.

"Southampton is at the heart of the planned Solent freeport and a city bidding to win UK City of Culture 2025. It is a diverse city, embracing many cultures and ethic heritages, well connected nationally and internationally, rich in talent especially from the leading universities, colleges and schools in the region. I am delighted to see the city recognised as the leading place in three UK for independent businesses to establish themselves and grow.

“The future national economy is founded on the ability for UK independent businesses thriving. Southampton has a healthy mix of businesses. Above all it is strategically important to the UK as having amongst its assets the country’s largest multi-functional port.

“There is no better time to develop a business in Southampton – a city of opportunities, committed to the environment and building a legacy for generations to come. Its stakeholder groups have and will continue to come together addressing the challenges which some of our communities face in the levelling up agenda”

On its other chosen metrics, the report found 12.6 per cent of people commuted on foot and that people claiming benefits for unemployment made up six per cent of the working age population as of November 2020.

The rateable value per square metre of floor space stood at £114, the report said.

Another report recently placed Southampton at number 11 in a list of the UK’s most innovative cities.