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Strong business growth maintained across England and Wales

The combined business activity of the English regions continued to increase strongly in September, according to new research from Lloyds Bank, with a similar pattern seen in Wales, where the rate of growth in activity reached a four-year high.

While the lender’s Regional Purchasing Managers’Index shows the headline index falling slightly (from 61.0 in August to 60.7 in September) it remained well above the 50.0 “no-change” mark, having now shown rising business activity for 11 consecutive months.

London recorded the strongest output growth in England last month (62.9), followed by the North West (62.3) and the East Midlands (61.0).

While the North East remained the weakest performing area in terms of business activity expansion (56.2), the region has still recorded growth for the past five months.

Improvements in domestic business and consumer sentiment were cited as key drivers of greater business activity, and increased volumes of new business were also recorded across all of England and Wales.

The strongest rate of growth was seen in London (64.0), with the latest upturn reflecting a marked improvement in levels of new work within the capital’s service sector.

Higher levels of employment were reported by private sector companies across England and Wales in September, with a number of survey respondents noting that rising backlogs of work and greater confidence in the economic outlook had encouraged staff hiring.

The West Midlands saw the strongest rise in employment (55.6), followed by the North West (55.3).

The survey also highlights increased costs for private sector firms across all of England and Wales, as rising energy bills and staff salaries drive up input prices.

As a result, prices charged by manufacturers and service providers across England and Wales continued to rise in September, with inflation the strongest in the East Midlands (54.6) and weakest in London (50.4).

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