Report: Confidence, Credit Conditions and Cost Inflation in 2013 Industry News 18th December 2013 | By Liberty Have you seen the latest business research from Aldemore? Produced in conjunction with the Centre for Economics and Business Research, the study documents a largely-positive 2013 for both small and large businesses and offers reasons to be optimistic going into 2014 and beyond. Here are some of the most striking things we’ve learned from the report: The UK Economy is picking up speed in 2013 • After rising 1% in the first half of 2013, the UK is continuing to grow and recently recorded growth of 0.8% – the best quarterly performance since 2010. • All four of the UK’s main industrial groupings (agriculture, production, construction and services) grew compared to Q2. • Construction has been boosted partially by the government’s Help To Buy scheme. • Exports, notably to China, Hong Kong and France, have grown at the fastest pace since Q4 2011. • GDP was 1.5% higher than the same quarter in 2012, when the Olympic and Paralympic Games took place. • The UK economy is set to expand by 1.6% in 2013 and by 2.7% in 2014. • GDP is currently 2.5% lower than the peak of Q3 2013. Businesses are growing in confidence • Thanks to the growing economy, companies across Britain are becomingly increasingly confident. • Both SMEs (0-249 workers), large businesses (250+) and very large businesses (500+) are becoming optimistic, according to the ICAEW/Grant Thornton Business Confidence Monitor. • The Monitor is currently higher than its been in its 10-year history. • The average SMEs is becoming more likely to invest. They expect capital investment to rise by 2% in the next 12 months, up on last year’s 1.6%. • However, 60% of SMEs are still operating below capacity. Fewer businesses are going under • 4,094 businesses were liquidated in Q3 2013 – 6.8% lower than in Q2. • There are still around 1,000 more businesses failing than before the financial crisis in 2008 – showing that times are hard even though the economy is slowly improving. • Many struggling firms have stayed afloat thanks to low interest rates, but may find tough times ahead when the Bank of England raises rates in line with growing employment figures. Business inflation costs are falling • Costs for SMEs have gone down to 0.7% from 1.2% in the previous quarter. • This fall in inflation is chiefly because of falling financial fees which dropped by 8%. • The cost of wages also fell to just 0.8%, compared to 2% in Q2. • However, physical goods such as chemicals and metals rose in price by 0.8% since the previous quarter. Energy and utilities also grew in price. • Construction companies, particularly small and medium firms, have seen inflation rise slightly to 1.5% There’s better borrowing for small businesses • Interest rates have started to fall back for small businesses – to 4.71% from 4.78% in May. • This shows the Back of England’s Funding For Lending (FLS) scheme, which aims to encourage credit flow to small companies, is working. • Interest rates to medium businesses are also falling and are expected to plummet further as FLS continues to be implemented. • Small businesses have been most affected by the economic downturn. Average interest rates have risen 0.8% for SMEs since August 2009, compared to just 0.1% over the same timespan for medium-sized companies. Employment and physical goods are still costly for small businesses • Labour costs account for nearly a third (32%) of all expenditure for the average SME. • Physical inputs – from raw materials and manufactured products – also take up 20% of an average SME’s cost. • Retail companies pay under 10%, but pay more in IT, finance and telecom fees than other small businesses. • Unsurprisingly, manufacturing businesses spend more than 50% of their costs on physical goods and raw materials. It’s clear that the UK economy is, slowly, improving. What’s more, conditions for both small and large businesses are beginning to improve and optimism is returning. If you’re looking to source finance and grow your business in 2014 and beyond, talk to our team of investment experts today who can help you find the funds you need.