SMEs in the dark about Government’s regional Industrial Strategy

Nearly seven in 10 SMEs have not heard of the Midlands Engine

Government plans to stimulate the economy through regional initiatives, such as the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine are failing to make an impact on UK SMEs, according to the latest SME Confidence Tracker from business funder, Bibby Financial Services.

According to data for Q2, the majority of UK SMEs (66 per cent) are unaware of the Midlands Engine and 43 per cent are not aware of the Northern Powerhouse.

The latest research finds that a third of businesses in the North West (32 per cent), a quarter (25 per cent) in the North East and 31% in Yorkshire and Humberside have never heard of the Northern Powerhouse, despite Government aims to engage with “businesses and others across the North to consider what more can be done to support the delivery of the Northern Powerhouse.”

The picture is worse still in the Midlands. More than half of SMEs in the West and East Midlands are unaware of the Midlands Powerhouse or how it may benefit them.

Edward Winterton, UK CEO of Bibby Financial Services said: “Measures that aim to close the economic gap between the rest of the country and the South can only be a good thing. For this reason there has been much hope placed on the Midlands Engine and Northern Powerhouse strategies to drive regional economies through focused investment and skills development.

“Such strategies, however, are currently on unsteady ground. Over a quarter of SMEs in the North are unaware of the Northern Powerhouse and more than half of those in the Midlands have not heard of the Midlands Engine. This demonstrates a distinct lack of awareness from small and medium sized businesses the Government wishes to benefit.

“It is vital that SMEs in these regions see tangible benefits from the billions of pounds that have been earmarked, but this must start with awareness of the opportunities available to them and an understanding of how they can benefit.”

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