December 6 2013 Latest news:
Ben Woods, Business writer
Friday, October 25, 2013
The region’s business leaders have pointed to the mounting strength of the east’s economy in the wake of the third consecutive quarter of GDP growth.
Employment and skills:
• East of England has total employment of 2,577,000, with 2,147,879 in private sector employment - making the region one of the highest for private sector employment.
• The East of England also has one of the lowest unemployment rates amongst 16-24 year olds at 17.9pc (against a national average of 21pc).
• And one of the lowest unemployment rates for 25+ year olds at 4.9pc (against a national average of 5.7%)
• 89,700 have entered the Work Programme in the two years from June 2011.
• Since 2010 over 130,000 apprenticeships have started.
• 434 Academy schools have opened since 2010.
• The East of England has the largest number of private sector businesses in England (505,405 in 2013) outside of London and the South East.
• There were 47,500 business start-ups in the East of England in 2012, compared to 46,500 in 2010 – making the East the only other region in England apart from London and the South East to show an increase.
• Nearly £2.5m of start-up loans have been distributed in the region, and 4,190 National Enterprise Allowance claimants have started work alongside a business mentor.
• Exports for the first half of 2010 to first half of 2013 saw an increase of 9pc. Key export markets showing strong year on year growth: the USA (up 22.9pc at £3.65bn); India (up 13.7pc at £324m; China (up 8.6pc at £751m) and Brazil (up 7.6pc at £153m).
Homes and infrastructure:
• First Time Buyer mortgage lending is now at 4,000 for the first half of 2013 up over 17pc from 3,600 in the same period in 2010.
• There were 8,039 new build approvals in the first half of 2013 and a further 3,355 new homes were registered in the most recent quarter.
• Key infrastructure projects are bringing further economic benefits to the region:
• £102m funding for the widening of the A11 to create an uninterrupted dual carriageway from London to Norwich when it is completed in Winter 2014/15.
• As rural broadband is being rolled out nationwide, Norfolk was selected to pilot the Fast Start initiative
Improving export productivity in the manufacturing and service sectors – coupled with investment in businesses and infrastructure – showed that confidence was returning to the East of England, business chiefs said.
And it was claimed that the region was “leading the UK out of recession” thanks to a strong performance in last month’s Manpower Employment Outlook Survey, which showed that the East and the North West of England had the most optimistic hiring plans in the country – with its net employment outlook standing at +14pc.
It comes as the government announced today a 0.8pc upturn in gross domestic product (GDP), the best performance since the second quarter of 2010, including a 2.5pc surge in the construction sector - which has been bolstered by government initiatives such as Help to Buy.
It is also the first time in three years that growth has improved for three quarters in succession, figures from the Office for National Statistics showed.
But the size of the economy remains 2.5pc off the pre-recession peak of early 2008 and there were warnings that the pace of growth could start to tail off.
Caroline Williams, chief executive, Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, said: “Business confidence in Norfolk continues to slowly strengthen.
“The manufacturing and service sectors have consistently been recording positive results for exports, as well as UK sales and orders.
“Norfolk Chamber’s level of export documentation also hit an all time high at the end of last month. All of which, corroborate the latest GDP figures.
“The most recent British Chambers of Commerce Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) (released 8 October 2013) highlighted Norfolk’s improved employment, exports and turnover confidence balances.
In addition, the number of Norfolk businesses operating at full capacity increased and businesses are also benefiting from reduced raw material costs.
“Despite the challenges that still remain, both at home and abroad, overall the QES results and the GDP figures support the view that economic recovery in Norfolk is strengthening.”
Andy Wood, OBE, Chairman New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, added: “These figures bring very welcome and positive news. Manpower’s recent report has confirmed that the East of England economy is helping to lead the UK out of recession, which boosts confidence in our ability to meet our target of creating 65,000 new jobs and 10,000 more businesses by 2025.
“The top priority we are giving to driving skills is already bringing together hundreds of business leaders, local authorities, teachers and academics to launch an innovative skills strategy which will be launched by Minister for Skills, Matthew Hancock MP in November.
“This is all about supporting business and enterprise across New Anglia and confirming our place as a global destination for many of the world’s key industries.
“Growing business is also a key priority, and to maximise this we have set up a Growing Business Fund with £12 million of Government funding. This is a fantastic opportunity for enterprise in the region and allows us to offer significant financial support to companies who otherwise would not be able to source finance in a recession. Thirteen grants worth £845k have been awarded to businesses so far.
“Infrastructure projects in New Anglia are also attracting investment. A total of £16.8 million has been allocated to five infrastructure projects across Norfolk and Suffolk which will create more than 7,800 jobs in our region.
“One of these projects is Haverhill Research Park - the first project to receive finance from the New Anglia and Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough LEP’s Growing Places Fund. The 29.5-acre site comprises residential and employment space as well as a hotel and restaurant. The development is expected to create up to 2,000 new jobs and homes for around 350 people.
“Our Enterprise Zone in Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft, which is part of the East of England Energy Zone, continues to grow and prosper. Since it was launched it has created 226 jobs in total, is home to eight companies – six from LEP area, one from the UK, one from outside the UK – and has brought in £8.5m of private investment. The most recent company to locate here is Venko, which will create up to 100 jobs in the area.”
John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, added: “Our improved domestic market performance combined with our continuing export strengths, supported by the Chamber’s ‘Exporting is good for Suffolk’ campaign, gives us real cause for optimism that the economic recovery in Suffolk is gathering momentum.
“Taking account of our strengths and improvements across these and almost all of the other key indicators in the Survey, including employment and business confidence, there is a real consistency to the local picture that is to be welcomed.
“To see Suffolk manufacturers’ home deliveries increasing significantly indicates a strong in-quarter improvement. The service sector had excellent results too, with strong rises in orders and deliveries orders both locally and nationally.”
Two hundred jobs are set to be created after one of west Norfolk’s largest businesses was granted permission to expand its King’s Lynn facilities.