Businesses across East Anglia are preparing for an upturn in the regional economy next year with priorities for the next six months including staff training and development and business growth of five to ten per cent, according to the Business Factors Index report for the third quarter of 2013.
The findings of the latest report, produced by specialist business funder Bibby Financial Services, also suggest a higher level of confidence as more businesses in Q3 say they have seen an increase in new customers than during the last quarter.
However the survey of small and medium-sized enterprise owners also reveals that conditions are still challenging for many firms and top of the list of demands to help ease the burden is improving the skillset of school leavers entering the work place.
Sharon Wiltshire, spokesperson for Bibby Financial Services in East Anglia, said it was encouraging that businesses were looking to get fit for the future, but raised a concern about the level of funding support that firms are applying for.
She said: “It is a really positive sign to see firms in East Anglia, investing in future growth and staff training as it reflects the level of ambition for the future in the region.
“However one of the more concerning findings in the report is that 69 per cent of firms in East Anglia have not applied for business funding in the past 12 months.
“Firms looking at staff development and training as a priority need the finance behind them to be able to make that investment in their staff, and should be talking to funding providers about the options that suit them best.
“Funding schemes which are based on the value of the firm’s current sales ledger, such as invoice finance, are helping thousands of businesses in East Anglia to secure their cash flow and focus on business growth in this way.
“Funding support is vital in underpinning a sustainable recovery both in this region and the rest of the UK.”
Key facts from the Business Factors Index for Q3 2013:
A third, 31 per cent, of firms identified staff training as a priority for the next six months
38 per cent, of SMEs in East Anglia looking to achieve growth of up to five per cent next year
46 per cent say they have seen an increase in new customers during Q3, up from 28 per cent in Q3 2012
Almost a quarter, 21 per cent, say improving the skillset of school leavers entering the work place would help stimulate economic recovery
Wiltshire adds: “In East Anglia Bibby Financial Services is providing more than £38million in funding to firms looking to grow. We are planning to increase this funding support further in 2014 as part of our commitment to local businesses.”