End of year disruption threatens to de-rail East Anglia’s recovery but businesses pledge to invest in upskilling employees and creating new jobs

  • Mid-sized businesses in East Anglia fear recruitment shortages, COVID-19 restrictions and rising energy prices will impact their end of year trading
  • Rising inflation is set to take a toll with 37% of businesses planning to increase their prices as a result
  • Despite ongoing issues, 67% of businesses expect to return to pre-pandemic revenues in the next 12 months
  • Looking ahead for 2022, businesses are calling for Government investment in public services in the region and have set their own investment intentions around upskilling their workforces and creating new jobs.

East Anglia’s business leaders fear recruitment shortages, COVID-19 restrictions and rising energy prices will impact their end of year trading, according to new research from accountancy firm, BDO.

The bi-monthly Rethinking the Economy survey of 500 leaders of medium-sized businesses reveals 37% of businesses in the region are planning to increase the prices of their goods and services as a result. Despite these pressures, two thirds (67%) of companies in the region expect to see their revenues return to pre-pandemic levels within 12 months.

There is a sense of cautious optimism looking into 2022 with nearly a quarter (23%) of East Anglian companies surveyed prioritising investment in upskilling their teams and 17% planning to invest in creating new jobs to support future business growth. Nearly one in three (30%) businesses in East Anglia are looking to drive growth into the US and another 27% are looking to expand into Asia in 2022. Domestically, growth will come from expansion across East Anglia and into the East Midlands.

The research provides an insight into the mid-sized businesses which BDO calls the ‘economic engine.’ This group of companies comprises the mid-sized, private equity-backed and AIM-listed businesses, which contribute £1.3 trillion to the economy and create almost 8 million jobs.

When asked which area of public spending would have the greatest positive impact on their business in 2022, nearly a third (30%) of companies in East Anglia called on the Government to invest in public services as a priority for growth.

Half of businesses shared concerns that Government-imposed environmental and sustainability targets, inflation, or a decision to increase interest rates could impact their business over the next 12 months. However, the data also showed companies in the region are already taking sustainability into their own hands with two thirds of companies surveyed in the region having strengthened sustainability targets following the UK’s presidency of COP26.

Phil Hall, partner at BDO in East Anglia said: 

“2021 started with so much uncertainty and throughout the year, organisations have continued to face issues of rising costs and talent shortages which could de-rail recovery into 2022.

“Despite this and the immediate concerns around interest rate rises and COVID-19 restrictions, businesses in the region are showing entrepreneurial drive as they plan to focus on talent by recruiting more staff and upskilling their teams. It’s fantastic to see the level of global ambition in East Anglia, which could really help underpin long-term recovery in the region.”

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