Business survey confirms rise in performance and confidence in Leeds City Region
An independent survey of over 3,000 companies in Leeds City Region confirms business confidence is on the rise with employment, investment and business growth all increasing.
The survey, conducted on behalf of the LEP, found that three times as many businesses said their overall performance has improved over the past 12 months than said it had deteriorated, with over half of all respondents expecting further improvements and growth in the year ahead.
Key findings show that 64% of all businesses had invested in innovation activities in the last year by introducing new products or processes and investing in research and development. A quarter said their total number of employees had increased in the last year and 35% expect it to increase in the next year.
Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of the LEP said: “This survey is crucial in helping us identify the strengths of our business community and understand the challenges they face now and in the future so I’d like to thank all those businesses who took the time to take part. In the current economic climate, it is pleasing to see businesses continuing to grow and invest in new activity, particularly around innovation and training.
“However, there is still much for us to do to support businesses to grow further and achieve our ambition of transformational economic growth in our region. This survey has helped sharpen our understanding of the challenges businesses face and will help to shape our activity going forward to ensure we are meeting the needs of businesses.”
Over three quarters of respondents identified the City Region as a good place to do business, with good road access and high speed broadband most frequently mentioned as advantages of locating in Leeds City Region. Although businesses mentioned relatively few disadvantages to their location, the availability and cost of land and premises was the most commonly mentioned issue.
The findings also highlighted some significant barriers that are hindering business growth. Access to finance was the biggest issue raised, whilst 74% of businesses identified skills gaps within their current business model that will need to be addressed in the next 12-18 months if they are to meet their growth ambitions. The survey also found that although 15% of business currently export, there remain many more for whom the benefits of exporting are not being fully realised.
Roger added: “Our new LEP growth service is designed to support small and medium sized businesses that are looking to grow. It will act as a one-stop-shop, to help companies find the right support and funding to realise their growth ambitions. Coupled with our skills service and local initiatives to support exporting activity and uptake of apprenticeships, we are addressing some of the key challenges our businesses face to help our economy grow.
“This information is invaluable to us as we continue to develop our growth-offer to SMEs and call on government to devolve further powers and funding so we can respond to the local business needs, both now and in the future.”
With 50% of those businesses who used independent advice experiencing growth, the survey reinforces how important it is for firms to take full advantage of the support available from the LEP and its partners.
The findings from the survey, conducted by BMG research during spring this year, are available on the LEP website to download here.