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National Enterprise Network launches report on value of SME economy

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14 February 2023
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The National Enterprise Network (NEN) has released its report ‘Adding Value Across Enterprise’ calling on the government to prioritise enterprise support for the country's millions of small businesses.

The report, created in partnership with its members and conducted by Shared Intelligence, highlights that at a time of significant change, National Enterprise Network (NEN) and enterprise agencies remain crucial in ensuring entrepreneurs, micro-businesses and small businesses (EM&S) survive and thrive.

The UK’s 5.5 million small businesses account for 99.2 per cent of businesses in the UK. Micro businesses specifically, represent 90 per cent  of all businesses in England and employ over nine million people. They account for 50 per cent  of the country’s GDP, 50 per cent  of its growth and 75% of its innovation.

The report evidences the value of investment in enterprise support in ensuring that EM&S businesses continue to be the backbone of the UK’s local economies, providing local employment, added economic value and new wealth, alongside bringing diversity to local communities, high streets and local economies.

Read more - Report finds economic climate negatively affecting number of permanent hires

An important issue highlighted is how funding and policy attention has now shifted from LEPs to local government, giving them responsibility for post-EU domestic replacement funds and adding pressure to already stretched economic development teams.

This, the report argues, overlooks independent enterprise agencies across the country, working locally to stimulate entrepreneurial growth and employment. A lack of investment threatens to further damage opportunities to level up and grow the economy unless there is an overhaul of the way in which business support is delivered.

EM&S businesses are also weathering the effects of COVID-19 on the economy, the cost-of-living crisis, and the ongoing impact of Brexit, which raises questions about future funding with the closure of the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF).

The report states that support for enterprise agencies is more significant than ever. For example, over the last five years, NEN members have delivered an average of 585,549 sq ft (1,100 business units) to businesses every year, often taking on redundant space or reimagining regeneration areas. If this support disappeared, it would leave small businesses struggling with affordability in a crowded and overpriced market.

It also provides context for improving enterprise support at the start-up and local level, with enterprise-supported businesses surviving and thriving much longer than the three-year new business average.

Alex Till, Chair, National Enterprise Network said: “This report has been an important insight into the opportunities and challenges facing our entrepreneurs, micro-businesses and small businesses across the UK. Funding is vital for their survival and growth, as a crucial part of the economy and employment outlook.

"We will continue to work with our members to deliver the advice and support that they need, alongside working with the Government to ensure that funding is available and accessible, and the importance of these businesses recognised.”

Read more - UK business owners making more changes than ever to manage spiralling energy costs

Featured image: iStock


Sam is the Regional Editor of Biz News, responsible for both Hampshire and Dorset.

A new recruit to journalism, Sam started writing for the Business Magazine as a freelancer in May of 2022 after completing his degree in English at University College London. His passion for local businesses and ability to tell a story soon caught the attention of the publication’s management team and have led to his meteoric rise.

Sam, who lives in central Reading, takes a particular interest in technology, gaming and food and drink, having been a chef before starting his degree.

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