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SEMLEP Business Survey results 2014

7 November 2014

Results from SEMLEP’s Business Survey 2014 published today highlight lower business rates, better transport infrastructure and more business support as being top of the wish list for local businesses.

In the survey, conducted by the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP), over 1,500 companies were asked detailed questions about business performance, growth, challenges and projections to enable SEMLEP to  prioritise its activities, and track change and progress since its first survey 12 months ago.

In response to these results the Local Enterprise Partnership, which supports businesses based in Aylesbury Vale, Bedford, Central Bedfordshire, Cherwell, Corby, Daventry, Kettering, Luton, Milton Keynes, Northampton and South Northamptonshire, is set to fund a host of transport, skills capital and infrastructure  projects in 2015 and to continue to run its Velocity business support service.

When asked what businesses felt was most important in order to grow the following ranked most highly: lower business rates (21%), improved transport infrastructure/links (12%), more business support/advice (7%), regeneration/more investment in the area (7%) and more financial support (6%).

Gayle Pope, Partnership Services Manager at SEMLEP, said: “Since the launch of Velocity in February this year we’ve seen an overwhelming response to the service which, along with the results from this survey, demonstrates a clear need for a programme of this nature in the South East Midlands. Velocity is here to stay and has already supported over 550 businesses with face to face advice and guidance and we have awarded over £300,000 of grants which have created 215 new jobs.”

Hilary Chipping, Head of Infrastructure at SEMLEP, added: “Businesses have asked for improved transport infrastructure and we are delighted to have secured £79.3million from the Government’s Local Growth Fund to improve transport links and enable over 4,200 new jobs and more than 3,800 new homes to be delivered by 2020.”

SEMLEP’s 2014 survey also highlighted promising levels of engagement between businesses and universities and colleges in the area. In fact, one in eight businesses (12%) said they had established research and development links with the institutions, an increase of 4% since 2013 (8%).   

Lindsay Mitton, SEMLEP’s Head of Enterprise, said: “Many of our universities and colleges are already renowned for their excellence in high performance technologies and advanced engineering, which ties in perfectly with  our local employers and clusters of businesses specialising in these areas.  We are delighted that businesses are already engaging with our universities and colleges and we are committed to supporting this further.”

Despite the area being rated highly for its attractive surroundings, businesses said they continued to face a number of barriers to growth with the most commonly cited being the economic climate (49%), over-regulation and red tape (42%), increasing competition (39%) and the high cost of energy (39%). 

Gayle Pope said: “Through initiatives such as our free business workshops we’re helping firms gain a competitive edge, and we are also working closely with the Business, Innovation & Skills department on the Business Regulation Efficiency project, which reduces red tape and helps businesses cut time, save money and be more efficient.”

Other highlights from our 2014 SEMLEP Business Survey:

  • Over two thirds of businesses in the South East Midlands have rated this area a ‘good’ place to do business
  • The area’s attractive surroundings, road and rail network, good access to suppliers as well as good quality schools all rated highly in the survey
  • Business optimism about the future remains strong as more businesses (64%) are positive about their businesses’ future performance than the previous year (55%)
  • There was a three-fold increase in the number of businesses reporting skills shortages.

Download all the SEMLEP Business Survey findings HERE

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