District rated best in country for enterprise conditions

Last Updated: 8 July 2021

7 July 2021

South Lakeland has been found to have the best enterprise conditions in the country.

The UK Prosperity Index 2021, produced for the Centre for UK Prosperity programme by the Legatum Institute, found South Lakeland's enterprise conditions (scored on business environment, labour market flexibility and domestic market contestability) to be the best of all the 379 local authority areas in the UK.

South Lakeland also had the second highest overall prosperity score of the 24 non-metropolitan authorities in the north west.

Prosperity among local authorities was measured both overall and by 12 individual metrics: safety and security; personal freedom; governance; social capital; investment environment; enterprise conditions; infrastructure; economic quality; living conditions; health; education; and natural environment.

The findings were welcomed by Councillor Robin Ashcroft, Portfolio Holder for Economy, Culture and Leisure, who said they boded well for the district's successful recovery from the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic and underlined the importance of promoting "placemaking" in the development and future vitality of our communities.

Cllr Ashcroft said: "South Lakeland has long scored highly for our rates of business start-ups and retention and these new figures placing South Lakeland as the best in the whole of the UK for enterprise conditions, as well as a high rating for overall prosperity, is a further recognition of that.

"Fighting back from the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic is a massive challenge which no one organisation can solve on its own. But South Lakeland District Council is committed to leading from the front and taking a key role.

"Placemaking, for example, is increasingly becoming a major theme for employers wishing to attract a skilled work force and we are increasingly taking that, as well as climate action and climate reduction, into account when planning activity which will help make good our commitment to making South Lakeland the best place to live, work and explore."

Examples of this kind of activity backed recently by South Lakeland District Council include its decision to fund over the next three years Kendal Futures Community Interest Company (CIC) in delivering activities identified in the Kendal Vision and Kendal Town Centre Strategy, a model which it is hoped can be rolled out to other communities in South Lakeland and restoration and rejuvenation of Grange Lido and Promenade.

SLDC has been and is working with multiple agencies as part of the pandemic response but is also focussing on creating the conditions necessary for our businesses and communities to recover and thrive, including continuing its history of investing in business support, in particular our partnership with Cumbria Chamber of Commerce which enables free support for new businesses in the district to start up and existing ones to grow.

Other business support projects backed by SLDC include the Future Fixers, which encourages and guides people who have a sustainable, environmentally-friendly business idea towards a successful launch, and teaming up with Green Small Business (GSB) to offer a heavily subsidised deal for firms to get environmental advice and certification.

Cllr Ashcroft said that SLDC has a clear plan of activity for the district which will help with recovery, build confidence, attract investment and ultimately make South Lakeland a better place to live, work and explore.

Cllr Ashcroft said: "Some of these projects will be challenging to deliver, with external dependencies and complexities, as well as a demand on resources, but it is right that SLDC is bold in its aspirations to achieve them, either by taking the lead or by working with other partners to deliver on shared objectives. They show the breadth of work we are involved in which will help drive economic recovery. It is only right that we do that, and it is testament to SLDC's long history of sound financial management and professional excellence that we have the resources to see that through.

“We were pursuing many of these projects anyway, including exciting and innovative developments which focus on placemaking by developing our arts and cultural resources to make our area even more attractive as a place for skilled employees to live and work, but it is all the more vital that we deliver on them now.”


Medium/long-term strategic projects driven by South Lakeland District Council aimed at delivering a significant long-term economic benefit include:

  • commissioning a masterplan to guide future development of the GSK site in Ulverston after the company’s decision to reduce its operations on the site
  • transforming part of South Lakeland House in Kendal into additional "Mintworks" space – a modern, flexible space for use by start-ups and SMEs which will provide additional space for business start-ups and growth
  • Glebe Masterplan, a masterplan has been commissioned to look at commercial opportunities to improve the offer on the Glebe tourist hotspot in Bowness

Long-term work includes the next South Lakeland Local Plan, which will look ahead to 2040 with a long-term view of the development of the area; engagement with the Borderlands Place Programme (Ulverston); working with partners Highways England, Cumbria County Council, Cumbria LEP and Homes England to develop a new roundabout at the A590 Cross-a-Moor junction which will address a significant highway capacity constraint and unlock the development of 1,062 new homes at Swarthmoor; a redeveloped leisure and community facility in Ulverston; and the ‘Great Place’ Legacy, building on the success of the Great Place Lakes and Dales “Live More Do More” Scheme, which aimed to attract, inspire and empower young people in our area.