East Anglia: Regional business leaders welcome strong growth in GDP

Andy Wood, chairman of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership.

Andy Wood, chairman of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership. - Credit: Archant

Business leaders in East Anglia today welcomed official figures showing that the UK economy grew at its fastest pace for three years during the three months to the end of September ? and there was a broad consensus that the region is helping to lead the recovery

According to figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), the economy grew by 0.8% during the third quarter of 2013, building on growth of 0.7% in the previous three months and 0.4% during the first quarter.

Although the ONS figures on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contain no regional breakdown, other key economic indicators show the East of England out-performing most other parts of the country over the past year.

The East was the only region outside of London and the South East to see an increase in business start-ups last year and exports from the region grew by a robust 9% in the first half of 2013.

Andy Wood, chairman the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “These figures bring very welcome and positive news.

“Manpower’s recent report has confirmed that the East of England economy is helping to lead the UK out of recession, which boosts confidence in our ability to meet our target of creating 65,000 new jobs and 10,000 more businesses by 2025.

“The top priority we are giving to driving skills is already bringing together hundreds of business leaders, local authorities, teachers and academics to launch an innovative skills strategy which will be launched by Minister for Skills, Matthew Hancock MP in November.”

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He added: “Growing business is also a key priority, and to maximise this we have set up a Growing Business Fund with £12million of Government funding.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for enterprise in the region and allows us to offer significant financial support to companies who otherwise would not be able to source finance in a recession. Thirteen grants worth £845,000 have been awarded to businesses so far.

“Infrastructure projects in New Anglia are also attracting investment. A total of £16.8m has been allocated to five infrastructure projects across Norfolk and Suffolk which will create more than 7,800 jobs in our region.”

John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said: “Our improved domestic market performance combined with our continuing export strengths, supported by the chamber’s ‘Exporting is good for Suffolk’ campaign, gives us real cause for optimism that the economic recovery in Suffolk is gathering momentum.”

And Denise Rossiter, chief executive of Essex Chambers of Commerce, added: “We are definitely seeing a lot more positivity from our members across the county who are reporting increasing confidence from their customers, whether other businesses or the general public.”

The Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft CORE (Centre for Offshore Renewable Engineering) has developed a skills-based programme to ensure that the area’s strong energy sector skills base is maintained and continues to meet the future needs of the industry.

James Gray, inward investment director for the East of England Energy Zone and EEEGR (East of England Energy Group), said: “The chance to be included as one of only six Centres for Offshore Renewable offered an excellent opportunity for Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft. It is certainly helping to boost the region’s profile internationally and with Government departments.

“It also reflects the importance the Government attaches to the region as an energy leader which can play a key role in the development of the nation’s renewable energy sector.”