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The east-west divide in the UK’s continuing recovery

2 min read

22 October 2013

Businesses in the east of the UK are much more upbeat about their prospects in comparison to earlier this year, while the western side of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland have experienced only a limited improvement or none at all.

On a ‘top two box’ basis (combining those businesses that are “forging ahead” and “progressing steadily”), 66 per cent of businesses in the east were “forging ahead” or “progressing steadily” in Q3, up from 50 per cent in Q2, according to BDRC Continental‘s ‘Business Horizons‘ study. For businesses in the west, however, the figure is 58 per cent in Q3, unchanged from Q2.

This 66 per cent figure for businesses in the east sits within the context of the national average, which sees 63 per cent of businesses either “forging ahead” or “progressing steadily”, up from just over half of businesses in Q2. 

The proportion of businesses nationally that described themselves as only “coping cautiously” dropped by nine per cent. Over the same period, there was a small dip of two per cent for businesses who said they were ‘hard hit’.

Shiona Davies, Director at BDRC Continental, said: “With the survey now drawing on results covering Q2 and Q3 2013, the most interesting findings are the regional variations that reveal a distinct east-west divide rather than the north-south split that is often talked about when the UK recovers from a downturn.”

Looking at the data across seven regions, the best-performers were: East Midlands and East Anglia, recording a Q3 ‘top two box’ score of 69 per cent, up from 51 per cent in Q2; and London, where businesses surveyed recorded a Q3 ‘top two box’ score of 71 per cent, up from 53 per cent in Q2. The North East, Yorks and Humber scored 60 per cent in Q3, up from 45 per cent in Q2, while the South East registered a score of 62 per cent, up from 51 per cent in Q2.

This strong performance contrasts with Scotland and Northern Ireland, where the ‘top two box’ improvement Q3 to Q2 was only six per cent, and with South Wales and the South West, where the ‘top two box’ improvement Q3 to Q2 was just four per cent. For the North West, West Midlands and North Wales, the Q3 value actually dropped from 59 per cent to 55 per cent.

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