The third annual Greater Peterborough Business Survey reveals a confident business environment despite a range of challenges
The city’s business community has every right to feel confident about the next 12 months, judging by the results of the 2016 Greater Peterborough Business Survey. Almost 60 per cent of businesses responding to the survey reported improved performance during the last 12 months, with 45 per cent expecting to invest in more staff or capital projects this year. About a third expect to be requiring larger premises within the next five years. Prospects look good with 60 per cent of respondents anticipating a continued improvement in profitability over the course of the coming 12 months, despite an expected increase in operating costs.
The survey, jointly organised by city accountancy firm Rawlinsons and economic development company Opportunity Peterborough, is designed to test the temperature of the economic water specifically in Greater Peterborough, rather than Cambridgeshire as a whole. Just over 180 businesses responded to the survey questions across a broad range of sectors, with financial services and construction performing the best.
Top five obstacles
The top five obstacles to growth have remained constant over the past three surveys. The biggest obstacle now facing businesses is the availability of skilled workers, an issue that has steadily increased in prevalence across Peterborough’s business community. The results below show the percentage of respondents citing each obstacle as relevant, together with the respective position.
The biggest challenge facing businesses seems to be the availability of skilled workers, with 37 per cent of all respondents focusing on this as their main obstacle to growth. Predictably, the other challenges were price pressure from customers and competitors, and rising overheads including utility costs.
‘This is our third annual survey, and so we are starting to build a longer-term picture of what local businesses are saying,’ says Mark Jackson, Partner at Rawlinsons. ‘This latest survey shows that business performance in Peterborough continues to be strong and expectations for the next 12 months are quietly encouraging, without being overly optimistic. Start-ups are reporting good results and most sectors are experiencing continued growth.’
‘As with previous years, access to a skilled workforce continues to be a major priority for local companies, and with almost half of respondents expecting to see an increase in staffing levels this year, it’s vital there is appropriate support to recruit talent that meets business needs. Our Skills Service is doing valuable work to boost the employability skills of young people in the city, but of course there is still more to be done,’ says Steve Bowyer, Chief Executive at Opportunity Peterborough. ‘It is also encouraging to see more than half of respondents indicating they would welcome support to increase their operational efficiency through improved processes, more effective use of resources and better leveraging of technology. Working closely with our partner organisations, we are exploring ways of closing any gaps created by the demise of the Growth Accelerator and Manufacturing Advisory Service as we continue to help businesses take advantage of support that is available,’ adds Steve.
The full Greater Peterborough Business Survey 2016 report can be accessed by visiting the Rawlinsons website at www.rawlinsons.co.uk/business-survey-2016 or by contacting Joanna Bacon at or on 01733 568321.