The best 25 places in Britain to work for a small business have been revealed.

iwoca research uses a range of criteria including average wage, commute time, house price, job density and growth in the number of small businesses.

Glasgow was top of this year’s list, with Manchester and Derby ranked second and third respectively.

Smaller towns and cities feature highly in the top 25, while Greater London is missing altogether.

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.

Glasgow scored 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 startup 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. 

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Areas in capital London 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. 

RankLocal AuthorityCommuting time (minutes)Average hourly wage (£)Job densitySME Growth 2016 to 2021 (%)Average house price (£)
1Glasgow City2919.191.0448.6185,595
5Newcastle upon Tyne3018.431.0245.72175,000
6Dundee City2217.670.8549.61165,600
17Blackburn with Darwen2416.980.7936.35125,000
19St. Helens2617.870.6232.99146,000
21 =Birmingham2918.70.8235.06199,995
21 =Luton3421.040.7834.76260,000

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.”