The English Business Survey (EBS) surveys 3000 different workplaces every month to gauge the business conditions within England. The EBS is a review of past, current and future conditions. The majority of the results have been given in ‘balance’ terms. Where 'Balances’ are presented, they are the difference between the ’higher’ responses and the ‘lower’ responses, provided by those questioned. Balances provide a summary of the scores for businesses that report, or expect a variable to change.
Overall in July 2013, output performance was positive, recording an estimated balance score of +26% for England. This shows little change compared to the previous month (+29%), but is higher than the same period last year (+13%), suggesting that the general business environment is in a significantly better position than last year.
Similarly, the employment balance in July was positive for England with a balance score estimate of +11%. This is similar to the highest score in the series recorded in June 2013 (+12%) and higher than the balance in July 2012 (+4%). All regions recorded positive results for output and employment. For output, the South East recorded the strongest balance (+31%) whereas the North East was the weakest (+18%).
Expectations for employment in July indicate that 22% of businesses are expecting higher employment and 12% are anticipating a decrease in October compared with July. This produces a balance of +11%; 6 percentage points higher than the same period last year. Businesses were particularly optimistic in the London and East Midlands, where the balance was +18%.
Small Businesses Outperform
When examining the survey results by the size of the business, 11 small businesses (10-49 employees) performed the strongest with a balance score of +32%. That is 47% of small businesses stated output had increased in July compared with April 2013, a figure significantly higher than the estimated average for England (43%). Micro businesses (1-9 employees) reported the weakest performance with a balance score of +13%, while medium (50-249 employees) and large (250+ employees) businesses both reported a balance score of +27%.
Big Businesses Reinvest Capital
In England, the proportion of businesses making capital investments was an estimated 31%. This is similar to the results in July 2012 (+33%). Large businesses were the most likely to have invested capital with 41% stating they made new investments in the three months to July. In contrast, only 16% of micro businesses stated they had invested. Micro businesses continue to be the least likely to make capital investments (15%) in the next three months. Large businesses are the most likely to invest, with 41% stating that they intend to invest in the next three months.
Clearly the majority of the statistics show a much-improved outlook when compared with last year. It is important to note however that conditions are likely to remain tough for micro and small businesses. Naturally this is going to mean reduce investment in this sector