The UK Local Growth Dashboard 2018, published by the Enterprise Research Centre, paints a stark picture of the nation’s varied growth geography among small and medium-sized enterprises.
Northern Ireland takes the top spot on many of the firm-level growth measures, while rural and coastal parts of England, Wales and Scotland display more sluggish activity. On productivity, job-creating firms in parts of the North of England and Midlands are outpacing the South in growing turnover faster than their headcount. Only 8.4% of job-creating firms in the UK have positive productivity growth.
The findings provide a grassroots dimension to previously-published UK government predictions on the impact of Brexit on regional economies. A no-deal exit from the EU, ERC academics suggest, could have a further detrimental effect on areas where the private sector is already showing a lack of dynamism.
Key findings from the report show that:
The UK’s 5.7m SMEs constitute over 99% of businesses, employing more than 16m people and have a combined annual turnover of £1.9trn, 51% of all private sector output.
The ERC is the UK’s leading source of independent research on the growth of SMEs.
Professor Mark Hart, Deputy Director of the ERC, said: “Our findings show a complex geography which challenges some of the preconceptions about the ‘hotspots’ of business growth across the UK.
“There is evidence of strong business growth underpinning the development of the Northern Powerhouse but there are some faulty valves in the Midlands Engine which need urgent attention – especially in the West Midlands.
“There’s also clear evidence that firms in Northern Ireland have achieved impressive growth and productivity gains over recent years. This may be down to the stability of the business support environment fostered by its business development agency, Invest NI.
“But a real concern is whether this can be maintained if Brexit results in more complex customs arrangements - which on the current path is almost certain - either between Northern Ireland and the Republic, or indeed between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK and beyond. With the private sector in Northern Ireland traditionally rather fragile, this recently developing good news story could turn very sour indeed.
“Equally, many of the English regions as well as Wales and Scotland show weaker activity across the entire growth pipeline. The worry is that a macro-economic shock, as predicted by the Government’s own analysis, could further damage business dynamism in these places.”
Notes to the editor
A PDF copy of the Local Growth Dashboard 2018 is available on request. Please contact James Tout (details below)
Infographic (hi-res AI, PDF and PNG format versions available on request)
About the Enterprise Research Centre
ERC is the UK’s leading independent research institute on the drivers behind the growth and productivity of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It is funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Innovate UK, The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and the British Business Bank (BBB).
ERC is producing the new knowledge around SMEs that will allow us to create a business-friendly environment nationwide, grounded in hard evidence. We want to understand what makes entrepreneurs and firms thrive so we can spread the lessons from best practice and make the UK a more successful economy.
The Centre is led by Professors Stephen Roper of Warwick Business School and Mark Hart of Aston University, Birmingham. Our senior researchers are world-class academics from both Aston and Warwick Universities as well as from our partner institutions which include Imperial College, Queens University Belfast and the University of Strathclyde.
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About Aston University
Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston is a long established university led by its three main beneficiaries – students, business and the professions, and our region and society. Aston University is located in Birmingham and at the heart of a vibrant city and the campus houses all the university’s academic, social and accommodation facilities for our students. Professor Alec Cameron is the Vice Chancellor & Chief Executive.
Aston has been a leading university for graduate employment success for over 25 years and our students do extremely well in securing top jobs and careers. Our strong relationships with industry partners mean we understand the needs of employers, which is why we are also ranked in the top 20 for graduate employability.
For further information, please contact James Tout at Journalista on 07989 610 276 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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