Experts say Capital’s disposable income helps attract business

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FAMILIES in Edinburgh have more disposable income than other major cities outside of London, a new report has shown.

High average earnings of £27,800 last year put the Capital ahead of rivals across the UK.

Edinburgh by Numbers – the city council’s annual statistical overview – showed disposable income per resident stood at £17,200, according to the most recent figures available.

The figure was £3600 higher than in Glasgow and £3900 than Manchester and was a key factor in attracting high-end retailers and businesses to Edinburgh, experts said today.

Designer clothing chain Hollister, women’s clothing brand Anthropologie, London shirtmaker Charles Tyrwhitt and French retailers The Kooples all announced moves to the city centre last year.

A high level of educational achievement – 46 per cent of working-age residents have a degree and eight per cent a diploma – also continues to attract new business to the Capital.

Around two-thirds of school-leavers from state schools went on to higher or further education.

Comparisons with rival cities also found Edinburgh has attracted more foreign investment deals than any city outside London, suggesting the Capital remains a key destination for international business despite the economic downturn.

More than 30 major deals led to the creation of 1700 jobs in 2011, dwarfing other cities across the UK including Glasgow with 15 and Manchester with 22.

New firms making investments included Amazon and US investment management firm BlackRock, which expanded its staff by around 240.

Edinburgh by Numbers also revealed that city workers are more productive than any other outside London, and in one measurement surpassed them.

Yesterday the Evening News told how Edinburgh’s top 20 companies posted pre-tax profits of £4.5 billion in 2010, although the number of firms going under was higher than new ventures for the first time since 2004.

Figures also revealed that visitors to the Capital spend just over £1bn in hotels, bars, restaurants and sightseeing, among others.

Graham Birse, policy director at Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, said: “We have one of the highest degree-educated workforces in the UK and we know we have that spread of diversity in the economy.

“We know disposable income has been under pressure over the last few years with inflation, food prices and fuel prices up, but that’s the same across the UK, so proportionally we are unlikely to have moved from being the second-most prosperous city.

“Disposable income is the reason why significant brands want to locate to Edinburgh – Harvey Nicols have been here for a decade – and we see retailers like Waitrose, five-star hotels and airlines arriving in Edinburgh.

“All of these investments are looking for disposable income in the marketplace.”

Figures detailing the number of city residents claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance also revealed just 3.2 per cent claim the benefit compared with six per cent in Glasgow and 7.3 per cent in Birmingham.

Councillor Tom Buchanan, the city’s economic development leader, said the report, providing a snapshot of the city’s economy and living standards, showed the diversity Edinburgh has to offer.

He added: “The pace of economic recovery remains slow, and Edinburgh is not immune to the threats posed by the eurozone debt crisis. However, the city has built on its many strengths and has proven itself to be resilient.”

Fireraising

FIREFIGHTERS were deployed to hundreds of deliberately-set fires in Edinburgh last year, tying up crews for hours and potentially diverting them from real emergencies.

More than half of the blazes were classed as secondary fires, in many cases involving derelict vehicles and properties along with rubbish bins.

Of the 3303 fires in Edinburgh last year, 1886 were in that category, while 728 were classed as residential fires.

“Deliberate fires can cause unimaginable damage and upset to the people who live in an area,” a spokeswoman for Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service warned.

“It also diverts the resources of the fire and rescue service and puts firefighters in potentially dangerous situations which could have been avoided.”

Meanwhile, crime statistics detailed in the Edinburgh by Numbers report showed there are now just under 800 crimes reported for every 10,000 city residents, down from 1150 in 2001.

The Capital was the safest of the four largest cities in Scotland.

Dundee had around 850 per 10,000 residents, Aberdeen 875 and Glasgow around 975.

Overall, Lothian and Borders Police received reports of 60,000 crimes in 2010-2011 – down from 78,000 five years ago.