The UK’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which measures all the activity of companies, Governments and individuals in the economy, shrank by a record 9.9% last year as coronavirus restrictions impacted output, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS). Experts predict the UK economy will return to its pre-pandemic size in the second quarter of 2022, three months earlier than previously forecast. According to new research, consumer confidence increased at its fastest rate in a decade in the first three months of 2021, this is paired with businesses reopening and business confidence raising too.
The Federation of Small Businesses reports that business confidence raised 27% in the first quarter of 2021, up from -49% in the last quarter. The report also found that 53% of businesses aspire to grow over the next 12 months, marking a 22% increase compared with the same time last year.
As the economy shifts, support for businesses is evolving. At Exemplas, we have been providing trusted, expert advice to SMEs for over 25 years. We know this is a challenging time for many businesses across the UK, and through our delivery of public sector contracts, including Hertfordshire Growth Hub and Innovate UK EDGE in the East of England, we continue to support businesses as the economy reopens.
Bringing together a wealth of experience, Hertfordshire Growth Hub’s vast network of advisers, mentors and coaches are available to ensure SMEs in the county have access to the latest information and support to help them minimise the impact of the pandemic. The Growth Hub continues to be on hand to help businesses with reopening and facilitating future growth. Funding opportunities including the Respond, Adapt & Strengthen Grant received huge interest, and support initiatives such as the Volunteer Business Support Programme as well as the Wellbeing and Resilience Programme have been extended due to their success. Strong partnerships with business support organisations and local authorities such as Better Business for All Hertfordshire have provided businesses with a variety of resources, including on-demand videos and events.
Innovate UK EDGE has been supporting businesses to overcome immediate challenges faced due to coronavirus with its responsive support, helping them get back on track with their ambitions to grow and scale through innovation. There are some positive cases where the coronavirus pandemic has created opportunities for clients, enabling them to respond to the current needs in the market.
Find out more about the public sector contracts we deliver here.