'Northern Powerhouse' Ignites North West Confidence

Heard of the 'Northern Powerhouse'? If not, it's time to get acquainted.

It's not just a term used to describe booming business in England's northern counties. It's also a government strategy designed to enhance growth and redress the UK's South East-weighted economic balance.

The 'Northern Powerhouse' been gathering steam for some time, with local councils such as Warrington working to boost local business activity and increase funding and growth initiatives.

And following the release of government objectives earlier this year, in which they intend to "transform Northern growth and rebalance the country’s economy", it's official: the North of England is well on its way to becoming a global powerhouse.

Of course, there have been some bumps along the way.

In July 2015, the Lloyds Bank's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) recorded a slow month for North West businesses, with overall business activity only slightly higher than the previous month.

And in a joint report between the BDO and the CBI released in September 2015, it found that more than half of medium-sized firms in the North West are finding it difficult to access a loan for longer than five years. The problem, according to the report, is that most funding initiatives focus on small or startup businesses rather than larger firms requiring longer-term investment.

The good news is that both the CBI and BDO are now calling for longer-term lending and equity investments to help growing firms realise their full potential.

Yet even with a gap in funding and a dip in performance, the North certainly isn't losing steam.

Far from it.

UK's most confident region

The latest findings from ICAEW and the Grant Thornton Business Confidence Monitor (BCM) suggests that employment growth across the North West has rocketed to 2.9%, a marked improvement on last year's position of 2.2%.

And data from the ICAEW demonstrates that North West businesses are currently more upbeat than any other region in the UK - including London and the South East.

The report also found that average profits for North West firms lifted by 4.8% in Q3 2015, while average turnover increased by 4.4%.

ICAEW’s regional director, Melanie Christie, said: "It is reassuring to see, following the General Election, a positive increase in confidence for the North West," adding: "The government pledge on the Northern Powerhouse will help to boost optimism further."

With one foot firmly ensconced in the North West, UBC believes the North is already a business and economic powerhouse.

It has an undeniable entrepreneurial spark that's driving enhanced performance and also attracting important new business and inward investment to the region. As a business hotspot with a lively startup scene, from where we're sitting, we believe the government's initiative can only add fuel to the fire of an entrepreneurial region that's burning more brightly than ever.

If you're looking to set up shop or expand in the North West, take a look at our serviced offices in Birchwood Warrington to find out how we can help your business grow.

Image: Thomas Gun