The top 10 locations where CEOs live in the UK are all found in London and south-east of England, a study by accountancy group UHY Hacker Young has found.
Westminster comes top of the list with 6,010 CEOs living there. In second place is West Surrey (including Weybridge and Epsom) which is home to 5,510 CEOs, followed by Camden and City of London with 4,830.
The findings reflect the concentration of company headquarters in the capital, suggesting that there has been very little shift in the north-south business divide over the last two decades. Few businesses have moved their corporate headquarters outside London and the surrounding areas.
Oxfordshire is the furthest north of the top 10 locations. Birmingham, though it is the UK’s second biggest city, comes in at number 12, with 2,149 CEOs living there.
The report calls on the government to consider further incentives for businesses to have their headquarters outside of London, in order to create more equal distribution of the economy across the UK.
Although London can give companies some competitive advantages such as access to a larger talent pool, there are benefits to locating further afield. Businesses that base headquarters outside of the capital should enjoy lower costs such as property and wage costs.
The report points to infrastructure projects such as high-speed rail line HS2, the Mersey Gateway Bridge, and Birmingham's Big City Plan as initiatives that aim to improve the ability of cities to win businesses away from London.
Cities that could attract businesses away from the south east include Leeds, which has become a northern hub for the technology and digital sector, Bristol, which is focused on aerospace and technology businesses, and Edinburgh, as a financial services centre.
Clive Gawthorpe, partner at UHY Hacker Young said: “The huge number of CEOs living in the South East reflects the UK’s reliance on London as a centre for HQs. Improvements in technology should be weakening the draw of the capital city.
“So many locations away from London have emerged as successful business hubs for advanced and emerging technologies. But expanding growth in the regions is a full-time job for the government — it’s a task the government can’t take its eye off.”