Confidence is key amongst East Anglian businesses
Confidence breeds success. Or should it read: success breeds confidence? Either way, 83% of businesses in East Anglia are bucking current trends by demonstrating assurance in their ability to survive a second wave of COVID-19 this winter without additional financial support.
It’s overwhelming and the most confident response from any region in the UK, comparing handsomely to a UK average of 59%. There are a myriad of reasons why businesses in the region have good reason to feel buoyant about their prospects during the latest chapter of the pandemic.
Why is East Anglia confident?
Cases of COVID-19 in certain parts of East Anglia have remained some of the lowest in the country during the pandemic and, as such, local restrictions have stayed relatively light touch, allowing businesses to function in some sort of normality. A second lockdown in England is certain to dent that confidence to some degree, but that buoyancy is also rooted in the strength and diversity of businesses that exist within the region.
East Anglia is home to several fast-growing and successful sectors, each with a string of associated industries that feed into them and each being supported by a fervent pool of talent. Known as the UK’s ‘clean growth’ region, it is led by ICT/digital – worth £1.4 billion, employing 24,000 people across 4,000 businesses and standing at the forefront of digital innovation. Agri-food has a workforce of nearly 80,000 people, with Norfolk and Suffolk leading the UK in the agricultural technology sector. The region is unrivalled in the UK for its unique mix of energy production and a global leader in offshore wind. In fact, by 2040 the East of England is expected to attract £60 billion in capital investment.
When you add other sectors to the mix, such as life sciences and advanced manufacturing, as well as leading-edge research, innovation and technology hubs, it is clear why East Anglia has such high levels of confidence when it comes to fighting the financial effects of COVID-19.
Brexit firmly in the agenda
However, it’s not just a pandemic that is threatening the future of businesses across the region. The small matter of Brexit is also looming large and posing equally challenging questions to a diverse collection of industries. As with COVID-19, the region’s businesses are facing the prospect of a no-deal Brexit head-on. Business leaders in East Anglia, unsurprisingly, believe they are best prepared for the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, with 90% already having a Brexit strategy in place.
This approach, this attitude, undoubtedly places regional businesses in the best possible position to tackle the challenges both in the present and in the future. In fact, our monthly Rethinking the Economy survey of 500 mid-sized businesses shows that businesses in East Anglia have a very firm focus on the future and plans for job creation, with 90% intending to increase their workforce over the next 12 months and 50% aiming to merge or acquire another business.
Confidence does indeed breed success, but in East Anglian success most certainly breeds confidence.
Read more from our Rethinking the Economy survey here and contact Phil Hall if you would like to discuss any issues mentioned in this blog.