Spurring Growth in the UK Economy with Data Analysis

August 4, 2012
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At a time when the UK is engulfed in Olympics excitement, it’s easy to overlook other items on the news agenda. But recent reports on the state of the UK economy are showing a slowdown in GDP (gross domestic product) growth, causing great concern about what the future holds for businesses in the UK.

At a time when the UK is engulfed in Olympics excitement, it’s easy to overlook other items on the news agenda. But recent reports on the state of the UK economy are showing a slowdown in GDP (gross domestic product) growth, causing great concern about what the future holds for businesses in the UK. (Check the National Institute Economic Review publication on Friday August 3rd for detailed forecasts of the UK and world economies.)

We created an analytic app called Discovering UK Growth to serve as a source of input for the debate surrounding the UK economy. We used publicly-available data from Companies House, the UK’s official register of businesses. (Click this link to interact with the app – or check out the YouTube video below.)

The Discovering UK Growth app sends you on a self-guided, interactive journey through UK business history since 1988. The destination? Insights to help UK business leaders and entrepreneurs make investment decisions. Check it out – you can explore data about fuel prices, interest and exchange rates, and GDP. 

Here are a few of the insights we uncovered as we explored the data:

  • Business creation declines during times of change and unrest. The UK’s best month for business creation since 1988 was March 2007, roughly three months before the financial crisis hit the UK. During this time a net 45,000 new companies started up. At the other end of the scale, business creation dipped deeply into negative territory in April 2009 — at the same time as the G20 demonstrations in London and the outbreak of swine flu. Also, business creation declines by just under 20% in the months following the appointment of a new Prime Minister. So maybe budding entrepreneurs should hold off starting a new business during times of unrest.
  • Business creation maps out regionally. That in itself might not be surprising. But you might not have expected Dungannon, Northern Ireland, to be the best place — outside the tax havens — to form a new business. Dungannon boasts a business creation to dissolution ratio of 72%. To put this into perspective, the city of London has a ratio of success to failure of just 31%. Looking to set up in the city? Think again, perhaps.
  • Taxation isn’t necessarily correlated with business creation. While increases in fuel taxes are widely bemoaned in the business community, the app shows these taxes in fact have little effect on business creation. The same can be also said for changes in corporation tax. So if you’re putting off starting your business for fuel or tax reasons, think twice!

We hope that the Discovering UK Growth app will help those reporting on, informing, and ultimately affected by government policy to develop fresh perspectives on recent economic history and, hopefully, also spot business opportunities to help boost the UK economy for a more positive report once the Olympics excitement has subsided. Let us know what interesting insights you find in it!