12 August 2012

Superfast Broadband rollout set to boost home-based enterprise and economic growth across Somerset

Key evidence from Smart Growth Analytics suggests that the rollout of Superfast
Broadband will significantly boost the growth and success of Somerset’s fastgrowing
‘industry’ of home-based offices. In turn, this will help to promote
economic growth, and create much-needed jobs, across the County.

The data shows that there are currently more than 9,000 dedicated home offices in
Somerset, and that almost 4% of all those in employment in the County, are
currently working in a home-based office on a daily basis. This is some 20% higher
than found nationally, and around 5% more than found regionally, across the South
West of England. In fact, amongst the 16 Principal Authority Areas of the South
West, Somerset has one of the highest volumes of home offices; only Devon,
Gloucestershire and Wiltshire contain more home offices than Somerset.

The economic importance of the home-based enterprise sector to the Somerset
economy should not be under-estimated; recent analysis of business and
employment growth trends shows that, since the economic downturn began in the
spring of 2008, it is the growth of the home-based sector that has led to all net
increases in both businesses and employment.

Amongst Somerset’s five district authority areas, South Somerset has the highest
volume of home offices (with some 2,600 home offices). West Somerset, however,
has the highest percentage of home office workers as a proportion of all workers
living in the district; almost 5% of all workers in West Somerset are home-based
office workers. Alternatively, Taunton Deane has the highest ‘density’ of home
offices amongst the five districts, with just over four home offices per sq. km.

Whilst dedicated home offices are a significant economic feature across the whole
of Somerset’s residential areas, there are certain parts of the County that can be
described as ‘home office hotspots’. For example, the small village of Cotford St
Luke, located just outside Taunton, is notable for having the highest volume of
home offices (amongst more than 300 small local areas across Somerset). On the
other hand, the highest percentage of home office workers, as a proportion of all
employed residents within the local area, is to be found just outside Somerton, in
and around the small rural villages of Henley, High Ham and Wearne. Almost one
in ten workers in this small local area is a home office worker. Finally, an analysis
of home offices and workers per sq. km shows that it is the more urban areas of
Somerset which tend to have the highest concentrations (given the size of the local
area). For example, the data shows that the Keyford, Trinity and east Stonebridge
areas of Frome each contain well in excess of 100 home offices per sq km.