Index Reveals ‘Hero Regions’ Driving British Economy

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The Barclays Business Regional Impact Index, launched today in conjunction with Kingston University, reveals which regions in Great Britain benefit most from the contributions of their SMEs and, crucially, the role they are playing in boosting recovery across the country.

The UK's small businesses are demonstrating both a resilience that is inspiring and an entrepreneurial drive to succeed even in challenging conditions.

Barclays Business Regional Impact Index reveals areas of Great Britain benefitting most from the contributions of their small businesses

  •     London, South West and Wales lead the Index of small businesses making substantial contributions to their home regions
  •     Key regional variations identified - Yorkshire & Humberside had the highest proportion of businesses that made a profit, businesses in the South West lead on innovation and firms in Central England have seen the greatest increase in turnover
  •     Small businesses crucial in job creation, providing a 10 per cent increase since the beginning of the current economic crisis. Central England is most bullish of regions on future job creation.

The Barclays Business Regional Impact Index, launched today in conjunction with Kingston University, reveals which regions in Great Britain benefit most from the contributions of their SMEs and, crucially, the role they are playing in boosting recovery across the country.

The Index* based on an in-depth study of 1,000 owner managers, combined with qualitative analysis by Kingston University’s Small Business Research Centre, ranks each region on 13 key indicators including profit last year and expected profit in 2010, outlook on growth, employment generation, investment in training, purchases from local suppliers and innovation.

The analysis reveals that overall London and the South West tops the Index, which is largely owing to their exposure to external markets. However, the analysis also highlights the key strengths of small businesses in the regions including:

  •     Small businesses in the South West have seen the greatest increase in headcount over the last three years. Businesses in Central England, South East England and South West England are the most optimistic about job creation in the coming year.
  •     Those businesses based in South West England have the most optimistic outlook on growth out of all regions in Britain, followed by those in London and Wales.
  •     Yorkshire & Humberside had the highest proportion of profitable businesses, followed by the North East and East of England.
  •     The North West is strongly focused on ‘buying local’, followed by small businesses in Scotland and Yorkshire & Humberside providing strong support for other businesses in the area.

Commenting on the findings, Professor Robert Blackburn, Small Business Research Centre, Kingston University who developed the Index said:

“Within the UK, 99.7% of all firms employ less than 250 people and their importance to local and regional economies as well as the national economy cannot be overstated.

“Overall the analysis shows that small businesses make a major contribution to their local and regional economies, particularly those in the Northern regions of England and Scotland. However, whilst this localism is crucial to providing opportunities for consolidation and growth, it is also important for these businesses to look for customers and markets further afield if they are to move to a next stage of development.”

Travers Clarke-Walker, a Director at Barclays Business, believes the research provides further evidence that the contribution of small businesses to the overall economy has never been greater. He said, “We hear a lot of rhetoric around the importance of small businesses, but this analysis illustrates just what that means on the ground. Small businesses have contributed, and continue to contribute to the resilience of local regions amid unstable economic conditions, the credit crunch and public sector cutbacks. They are without question the ones driving growth and creating jobs in every city, town and village in the UK.”

“The UK’s small businesses are demonstrating both a resilience that is inspiring and an entrepreneurial drive to succeed even in challenging conditions.”

Notes to Editors:

Case studies of small businesses, photography and interviews with Barclays Business spokespeople are available. Please contact press office on number above.

*The Barclays Business Regional Impact Index was compiled by identifying key factors that represent the contributions of SMEs to their constituent regions. Each region was ranked hierarchically by factor, based on the composite data from the quantitative survey. Combining these rankings produces a hierarchical index.

Data tables are available upon request

About Barclays Business

Barclays Business is the business banking arm of Barclays. It has over 700,000 - customers that are a mixture of start-ups, sole traders, partnerships and limited companies.

Barclays services to SMEs include:

  •     A choice of business accounts that they can tailor to their needs and the provision of up to two years free banking to start-ups, subject to remaining in credit.
  •     Day to day business banking support through an award winning team of Business Managers who are available over the telephone for everyday and urgent banking needs during the daytime, evenings and weekends.
  •     A support line that customers can use to talk directly to a Barclays lending specialist to discuss additional financing options.
  •     Free consultations for businesses with a local accountant, marketing expert and solicitor to advise on topics such as the best legal status, how to advertise or draft supply contracts.
  •     A free nationwide business seminar and workshop programme. This is designed to help business owners network and gain practical help on relevant challenges such as marketing, trading online or how to generate more business profits. Over 12,000 delegates have attended one of Barclays 800 business seminars this year.
  •     Business management software that helps business customers complete their business account work quickly and efficiently; support their hiring efforts; help back up their business data securely; and avoid late payment and bad debts.

Barclays is a major global financial services provider engaged in retail banking (current accounts and savings accounts), corporate banking, investment banking, wealth management and investment management services, with an extensive international presence in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia. With over 300 years of history and expertise in banking, Barclays operates in over 50 countries and employs over 140,000 people. Barclays moves, invests and protects money and provides personal loans, life insurance, Barclays credit card and other services for over 49 million customers and clients worldwide. For further information about Barclays, please visit our website http://www.barclays.co.uk.

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Emma Austin
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