Leeds City Region businesses leading the way in meeting productivity challenge
21 June 2018
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Leeds City Region are leading the way in meeting the UK's productivity challenge according to an influential report published today by independent SME research body, the Enterprise Research Centre (ERC).
Leeds City Region was one of the only areas of England where businesses showed positive productivity growth (defined as turnover increasing faster than employment) during the period 2014-17, surpassing the South-East of England and other parts of the Northern Powerhouse.
Boosting productivity is a top priority for the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), as part of both bodies collective efforts to develop a strong, socially inclusive economy that works for everyone in the region.
Research by the Combined Authority highlights that if businesses can close the gap between the region's productivity rate and the national average, £10billion could be added to the regional economy.
Speaking at an ERC conference today, where the State of Small Business Report 2018 was launched, Ben Still, Managing Director of the Combined Authority said: "It's great news that Leeds City Region is the best place in the North for SME productivity.
"However this report from the ERC underlines the scale of the productivity challenge that the UK faces, particularly in comparison with other countries. A worker in Hanover or Helskini for example, produces a third more output for every hour worked than a worker in West Yorkshire.
"Boosting productivity while also creating jobs that help improve people's living standards is central to the Combined Authority and LEP's plans for a local inclusive industrial strategy for our region. As we work with Government on developing this strategy, we will also be calling for increased stability and flexibility in support for business growth so that businesses can confidently invest in their productivity and their staff."
Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Chair, Roger Marsh OBE, highlighted the critical role that regional economies and SMEs play in driving the UK's productivity at a meeting with the Prime Minister in Downing Street earlier this week.
Commenting on the ERC report today, Mr Marsh said: "We're committed to making our region the best place in the country to start, locate or grow a business and as a region dominated by SMEs it's great to see the Leeds City Region in this national top 10. We have some brilliant, highly innovative businesses in our region and this report underlines our own research showing that SMEs here are expanding, exporting and employing staff at a faster rate than other areas of the UK.
"There is no room for complacency however. We need to understand why only 8% of SMEs in our country are showing productivity gains. Bold steps are needed to address the UK's productivity crisis, including putting in place a long-term approach to help SME owners invest in training, R&D and innovation through what is likely to be a turbulent time for our economy.
"Businesses also consistently mention the need for our region to secure a meaningful devolution deal at the earliest opportunity, so that we can respond to those issues that are holding back productivity, growth and living standards in the right way."
Recent research through the LEP's Annual Business Survey highlighted that those businesses that have a written business plan, a training plan for their staff and which undertake activities such as exporting, are more productive than those that don't.
A wide range of support is available from the LEP's Growth Service to help businesses become more productive and create jobs. The support available includes business grants, help to reduce energy bills, support to train employees and take on apprentices, and initiatives to boost innovation, exporting and long-term business growth.