North Ayrshire is the worst place to do business in Scotland due to a lack of competitiveness in the area, a new study has claimed.
The 2013 UK Competitiveness Index saw North Ayrshire placed lower than any other Scottish locality in a list of the most competitive urban areas in the UK.
The rankings, compiled by academics from Cardiff and Nottingham University, found that North Ayrshire was number 373 on the list, sixth from the lowest ranking in the UK overall.
Katy Clark, MP for North Ayrshire and Arran, said that although she doesn’t necessarily agree with the study’s findings, the ranking does highlight some important issues in the area.
She said: “I think there are always problems with establishing the accuracy of these studies so I think we should take this particular piece of work with a pinch of salt.
“However, there are underlying concerns associated with this survey that we all need to be really aware of. We’ve got a long term problem with unemployment but also with having a community that doesn’t have the skills that are really needed to compete.
“I also think we have a particular problem with transport that has just not been addressed. We have real problems with our roads network because we just haven’t invested as we should. There are other issues but I think this really needs to be looked at to make North Ayrshire a more attractive area.
The Index is designed to be a benchmark of the competitiveness of areas throughout the UK and offers data on 379 rural areas and cities throughout the country.
North Ayrshire’s most recent rating sees a drop of 31 places since 2010’s list, when it was placed at number 342 overall. This drop followed a trend for Scottish localities with many finding themselves lower on the list than ever before, largely due to a lack of investment in urban areas.
The report found that Aberdeen was the most competitive Scottish city in the UK and Glasgow rose to 16th in the rankings from 23rd in 2010. Overall, localities in London accounted for the nine most competitive places in Britain.
Professor Robert Huggins, director of the Centre for Economic Geography at Cardiff University and a co-author of the report, warned the Scottish Government that investment in rural areas was crucial to the overall success of the country.
He said: “Rural areas are suffering with lack of investment and that leads to fewer opportunities and further depopulation. If there is to be a balance in the economy, the Government needs to address that issue by investing to revitalise rural industries.”
The news will be particularly worrying for North Ayrshire residents after the area was also rated as the worst place to live in the UK last week in a survey from comparison site uswitch.com.