Region’s business leaders see brighter outlook for growth

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THE vast majority of business leaders in the North of England are optimistic about the prospects for economic growth, according to a new survey.

The Business Growth Fund has launched its inaugural Growth Climate Index, which is based on the opinions of 350 board directors working across the UK’s fast growing small and mid-sized businesses.

More than three quarters (81 per cent) of respondents believe that conditions for growth will continue to improve over the next quarter. This trend is broadly echoed on a national level, with 76 per cent of respondents anticipating improved conditions for growth.

The respondents believe that the Government should prioritise spending on improvements to railways, roads and runways.

In the North, an overwhelming majority (71 per cent) said that the UK’s membership of the EU is good for British businesses, and they emphasised the importance of the EU export market for companies wanting to scale-up their operations. A similar number (80 per cent) believe that another Scottish independence referendum would be bad for British businesses.

Judith Pilkington, the chairman of Moda in Pelle and former CEO of Space NK said: “The external conditions for long-term sustainable growth have markedly improved over the past ten years, perhaps for the first time in a generation. Happily, this is pushing businesses to be more ambitious. The Government has promised more investment in infrastructure and more devolution of powers.

“I don’t expect to see quick results, but I do consider this to be more than lip service. The fact that the regional devolution movement has been so well publicised should give entrepreneurs confidence.”

Andy Gregory, regional director for the North at BGF, said: “It is great to see the national and international growth aspirations of businesses based in the North of England coming back to life. Following a prolonged period of political uncertainty, businesses are now looking ahead more confidently. The next few years, however, present further challenges in relation to debates on both Europe and Scotland.”