Do businesses have confidence in the resilience of the South West economy?

Economy & Politics | South West
Illustrative view from South West

The monthly Rethinking the Economy survey of 500 mid-sized businesses conducted by accountancy and business advisory firm BDO LLP, revealed that although South West businesses have overwhelming confidence in the resilience of the regional economy, just 16% believe they are succeeding in the so-called ‘new normal’ following the outbreak of COVID-19.

42% of companies in the South West are concentrating on keeping operations running following the uncertainty and disruption of the pandemic, while 39% are focused on safeguarding measures to address the financial impact and disruption of coronavirus.

Commenting on the findings, Andrea Bishop, Bristol Office Managing Partner at BDO in the South West said: “Four in ten of the region’s business leaders are confident in the resilience of their companies over the next 12 months. This is just below the national average of five in ten, but it’s evident that South West businesses are prioritising key concerns to help them bounce back from the pandemic.”

The poll shows that the region’s business leaders have pinpointed cash flow (52%), managing employee wellbeing and safety (48%) and supply chain management (45%) as top priorities.

Andrea added: “Along with addressing these top three operational concerns, 52% of businesses in the South West are focusing on succession planning. This is higher than the national average of 40% and will help companies across the region to survive and thrive in the coming months and years.”

The majority (48%) of South West businesses think it will take the UK economy 12 months to recover from COVID-19, while 29% think it’ll be a much longer grind and will take two years to return to pre-pandemic economic levels. Just 13% expect the economy to bounce back in six months.

Andrea concluded: “It’s still difficult to fully predict how COVID-19 will continue to impact the economy, especially with the Government’s furlough scheme ending and redundancies becoming a real, and unfortunate, possibility for over half (55%) of the region’s businesses.

“What is much clearer is that South West businesses are addressing the challenges of the pandemic head-on, building on operational changes they’ve already made to further improve their resilience in the face of uncertainty. This will help to minimise the long-term effects of the pandemic and reduce the severity of job losses.”

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