February 10, 2014 12:03 am

Private sector takes off in southwest England despite flooding

A general view across the flood land south from Burrow Mump near Burrowbridge, Somerset west England©EPA

Despite flooding in Somerset, southwest England saw the fastest-growing private sector business activity last month

Southwest England was the UK region with the fastest-growing private sector business activity last month despite flooding in Somerset, according to the latest Lloyds Bank regional purchasing managers’ index.

London, which had shown rapid growth in recent months, slipped back to an eight-month low. Only the East Midlands and northeast England showed slower expansion than the capital.

All 12 UK regions and nations saw their economies grow, though at a slightly slower overall pace than in recent months. The headline index measuring overall business activity across the UK was 58.5, the lowest for seven months but still well above the 50 mark that separates expansion from contraction.

The survey, conducted by the data company Markit, found that both private sector output and employment were growing strongly.

After southwest England, the fastest-growing regions were southeast England, the West Midlands and eastern England. Northern Ireland’s business activity expanded at its fastest monthly rate for nearly 10 years. Growth in Scotland picked up, while Wales was steady.

Tim Hinton, managing director of SME and mid-markets banking at Lloyds Banking Group, said: “Growth in business activity across England and Wales has continued into 2014, with momentum only dropping off slightly from the final quarter of last year.

“There are also signs that confidence in the economic outlook is on the rise among businesses. This positive sentiment will be a key factor in spurring investment and recruitment over the year ahead, which will support the ongoing economic recovery.”

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