YORK is creating five times as many businesses per head as the rest of the UK according to new figures.

The city is in the top half of the of the best performing 150 UK towns and cities for business generation, according to research by York accountancy firm UHY Calvert Smith.

In the last year four new businesses per 10,000 population were created in York, compared to just 0.8 new businesses nationally.

York beats nearby cities of Leeds, Newcastle and Sheffield for new business creation.

UHY Calvert Smith, based in St Saviourgate, attributes York’s high level of business generation to its attractiveness for financial services businesses and its status as a tourist hot spot, helping to maintain a healthy local economy in the City.

The firm drew on research showing that nearly seven million visitors come to the city annually, far exceeding the resident population of 200,000, providing new businesses with a larger potential customer base.

Nevil Pearce, partner at UHY Calvert Smith, says that York’s vitality is also helped by its two universities, the University of York and York St John, which have both expanded rapidly in recent years and now have some 22,000 students between them.

The universities also incubate new businesses, with York University known for creating spin-offs in science, engineering and publishing.

Mr Pearce said: "The improvement in the UK economy has seen a wave of new businesses opening in York because of its recognised draw as a tourist destination.

"New enterprises are hoping to capitalise on the masses of tourists that visit the city each year, and many of these will also benefit from the spending power of our burgeoning student population.

"While York is beating many of its competitors in the North it has some way to go to catch up with some of the towns and cities clustered around London. Overall there is still a huge divide between North and South in terms of business generation.

"Local councils in the North, West and Wales may need to further step up their business generation initiatives if they’re to catch up with the South and boost the local economy."

The lowest scoring town was Blackpool, having lost a total of 13.4 businesses per 10,000 population.