You cannot deny the importance of London to the UK. The financial powerhouse is arguably the capital of the world, whilst its GDP of $731.2 make it the fifth richest city on the planet. Now London is a staple of capitalism, a shining beacon in the world of liberalism and very much the jewel in the British crown.
However, rapid rises in wealth also see to rapid increases in the cost of living, making living in the city untenable for many employees. Fortuitously, there are other cities in the UK where businesses and employees can carve out a good life for themselves, no more so than Leeds.
The biggest draw of London for skilled employees has always been the financial sector. With good wages and career prospects it is hard not to be attracted to the murky world of finance. And while it is incomparable with London, the Leeds financial district is one of the best in the country.
With over 122,000 people employed in the financial sector, second only to London, Leeds has a very affluent finance sector, worth a staggering £2.1billion a year. What makes for even better reading is that the sector is growing, not declining. Goodmans offices in Leeds have recently announced their tenure over Valley Park – the largest letting in the city for nearly 10 years and one that was built to help cope with the ever increasing demands of the financial sector. So for those who are drawn to the financial sector, Leeds is a very viable replacement for London, and with over 30 national and international banks in the city there should be plenty of openings in the non-too-distant future.
Continuing with office space, Leeds is the perfect location for any company regardless of size. Cushman and Wakefield’s European Cities Monitor of 2010, ranked Leeds as the number one location in Europe for affordable office space, as well as tenth in Europe, but first in the UK, for the cost of staff. Cheap office space and very affordable staff lead to one thing, reduction in costs, and if your costs go down you should see profit margins widen. Greater profits have the knock on effect of allowing for more investment and as you all know, you need to spend money to make money, so this in turn should maximise profits even more.
With a GVA of £18.8billion, the fourth largest in the UK, and a workforce totalling 395,100, third behind London and Birmingham, Leeds is very much an industrious city. The financial sector has helped no end in taking the city away from relying on industrial businesses which are becoming ever more dormant, and helped take the city well and truly into the 21st Century.
What we are seeing now is the financial revolution. We have had the industrial revolution which gave rise to cities such as Liverpool in the latter stages of the 19th Century but nowadays the manufacturing industries in Britain are dying. The financial sector is the way forward and it is something that Leeds is deeply engrained with.
It seems that the tentative steps from recession to recovery have been undertaken by the city and in the upcoming years it should see unprecedented growth. Business will also be pleased by the local government’s stance, they want the city to be the best in the UK by 2030, so should cut some of the nonsensical red tape that restricts business. And although it will never topple London, there is no reasoning to why it can’t be the London of the North.
London is the financial epicentre of the world but that does not mean that it has complete hegemony over England. Leeds, alongside Manchester, are impossible to ignore and their importance to Britain cannot be underestimated. In the next ten years expect Leeds to grow at rates not witnessed since the early years of the millennium.
So if you are looking for high-quality employment or an affordable location then the city of Leeds is perfect.
Photo courtesy of Melfiire