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Statistical bulletin: Business Investment, Q3 2013 Provisional Results This product is designated as National Statistics

Released: 27 November 2013 Download PDF

Key points

  • The estimates in this release are short term indicators of investment in assets, such as dwellings, transport equipment, machinery, buildings and intangible assets, across the United Kingdom. This release covers not only business investment, but asset breakdowns of total gross fixed capital formation (GFCF), of which business investment is one component.
  • All investment data referred to in this bulletin are provisional estimates of seasonally adjusted chained volume measures.
  • GFCF was estimated to have increased by £0.7 billion to £53.3 billion (1.4%) compared with the previous quarter. This is the strongest growth since Q1 2012 (3.6%).
  • Business investment rose by an estimated £0.4 billion (1.4%) compared with the previous quarter.
  • Investment was broad based with increases in four of the five main assets. The largest increases were transport equipment, which grew by £0.4 billion (26.4%), and other new buildings and structures, which grew by £0.3 billion (1.4%). There was a slight decrease in investment in intangible fixed assets of £0.1 billion (-0.9%).
  • Looking over the last four quarters, investment has been broadly flat, ranging between £52 and £53 billion.
  • An experimental dataset containing detailed industry and asset breakdowns of business investment can be found on the ONS ad hoc publication web pages.
  • In this release no periods are being revised.

Additional Information

This bulletin includes commentary on the dataset in addition to relevant graphs and tables. Accompanying background notes provide information on coverage, quality reporting, revisions and publication policy.

Detailed estimates of gross fixed capital formation, including business investment, at current prices and measured in chained volume terms for seasonally and non-seasonally adjusted estimates are available to download in the reference table associated with this release.

Changes to the Business Investment release

ONS has been reviewing the Business Investment release and as a result a new approach has been adopted since the Q1 2013 results published on 27 June 2013. This includes the inclusion of sector and asset breakdowns for GFCF not previously available in the release.
We would welcome feedback on the publication of these sector and asset breakdowns, and on how else the release might be improved, in either its content or presentation.

Bias adjustment to provisional results

The largest component of the data collected to produce estimates of GFCF and business investment comes from ONS' Quarterly Capital Expenditure Inquiry. Large capital expenditure tends to be reported later in the data collection period than smaller expenditure. This means that larger expenditures are often included in the revised (month 3) results, but are not available in the provisional (month 2) results, leading to a tendency of upwards revisions in the later estimates for business investment and GFCF. Following investigation of the impact of this effect, ONS has introduced an adjustment in this provisional release to correct for this bias.

In this release, the bias adjustment to business investment, and hence GFCF, is £500 million in current prices.

Publication of new, detailed industry and asset breakdowns of Business Investment

An experimental dataset containing detailed industry and asset breakdowns of Business Investment can be found on the ONS ad hoc publication web pages. We requested feedback from users on the GFCF industry breakdowns published as an ad hoc dataset in August 2013. We have acted on the feedback we received to: i) improve our pro rata approach, using a methodology more suitable for series which may contain both positive and negative values; and ii) improve how assets are assigned to industries. This has significantly improved the series presented here over the GFCF breakdowns, however, these estimates still remain experimental. More information on the methods and caveats can be found in the dataset document. The publication of this experimental dataset is part of the programme of continuous improvement to the UK National Accounts, which includes an ongoing review of GCF publications. ONS is considering the publication of a regular quarterly release of these business investment breakdowns and we would welcome your feedback on this dataset.

Methodological improvements

In 2013, ONS implemented significant methodological improvements to the estimation of GFCF. A description of these improvements and their impacts on estimates of GFCF can be found in the articles:

These developments are part of the programme of continuous improvement to the UK National Accounts.

 

Economic background

GFCF grew by 1.4% in Q3 2013 compared with Q2 2013, the third consecutive quarter of growth. Investment by both businesses (1.4%) and government (0.9%) contributed to the increase. However, while GFCF has grown in recent quarters, overall it has been broadly flat since the start of 2010, reflecting the relatively uncertain economic outlook.

Eurostat’s Economic Sentiment Indicator for the UK improved sharply and was positive in Q3 2013, following two slightly negative quarters. The strength in the composite indicator was driven by positive sentiment in the retail and services sectors. The industrial confidence indicator for the UK also turned positive and although sentiment in the construction industry was negative, the upward trend continued. Consumer confidence also continues to improve.

All sectors of the Sentiment Indicator were stronger in Q3 2013 than in the previous quarter.

The Bank of England’s Credit Conditions Survey reported increases in both the availability of credit for the corporate sector and the demand for lending from small and medium sized businesses in Q3 2013, while demand from larger firms was little changed. Availability of secured credit to households increased significantly and this was reciprocated by significant increases in demand for secured lending by households. GFCF has grown in every quarter in 2013 but the level of GFCF is still considerably below that seen prior to 2008.

 

Gross fixed capital formation

Figure 1: annual gross fixed capital formation chained volume measures

Reference year 2010, seasonally adjusted

Figure 1: annual gross fixed capital formation chained volume measures
Source: Quarterly Survey of Capital Expenditure - Office for National Statistics

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Figure 2: quarterly gross fixed capital formation chained volume measures

Reference year 2010, seasonally adjusted

Figure 2: quarterly gross fixed capital formation chained volume measures
Source: Quarterly Survey of Capital Expenditure - Office for National Statistics

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Business Investment and other components of GFCF

Figure 3: annual business investment chained volume measures

Reference year 2010, seasonally adjusted

Figure 3: annual business investment chained volume measures
Source: Quarterly Survey of Capital Expenditure - Office for National Statistics

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Figure 4: quarterly business investment chained volume measures

Reference year 2010, seasonally adjusted

Figure 4: quarterly business investment chained volume measures
Source: Quarterly Survey of Capital Expenditure - Office for National Statistics

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Summary tables

Total GFCF rose by an estimated £0.7 billion (1.4%) compared with the previous quarter. This is the strongest growth since Q1 2012 (3.6%). Business investment rose by an estimated £0.4 billion between Q2 2013 and Q3 2013, to stand at £29.1 billion.

Table 1a: total gross fixed capital formation by sector

  Percentage change £million
  Most recent quarter on previous quarter Most recent quarter on a year earlier Most recent level **
GFCF 1.4 -1.6 53,336
Business investment 1.4 -6.3 29,087
Private sector dwellings 1.8 9.1 12,556
Private sector transfer costs 5.6 7.0 2,844
Public corporations dwellings -11.6 -14.2 680
Public corporations transfer costs 28.8 20.5 -94
General government 0.9 -0.4 8,263

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. **Series may not sum to totals due to rounding.

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Growth in investment between Q2 2013 and Q3 2013 was broad based, with increased investment in four of the five main assets. The largest increase was in transport equipment, which rose by 26.4%, and now has the highest level of investment since Q4 2010.

Table 1b: total gross fixed capital formation by asset*

  Percentage change £million
  Most recent quarter on previous quarter Most recent quarter on a year earlier Most recent level **
GFCF 1.4 -1.6 53,336
Dwellings 0.7 7.4 13,308
Other new buildings and structures  1.4 -6.5 20,080
Transport equipment 26.4 1825.5 2,118
Other machinery and equipment, inc. cultivated assets 0.1 -14.6 9,797
Intangible fixed assets -0.9 -8.2 8,033

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. * The definitions used in these tables can be found in the 'Definitions and explanations' section of this bulletin.
  2. ** Series may not sum to totals due to rounding.

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Background notes

  1. Gross National Inventory - Reservations

    Business investment is a component of gross capital formation (GCF). GCF estimates are subject to scrutiny from the European Statistical Commission as to their compliance, comparability and reliability in accordance with the harmonisation of gross national income regulation (council regulation 1287/2003).  Article 1 of the regulation states that GNI shall be defined in accordance with the European system of national and regional accounts (ESA95). Where member states are deemed not to be compliant with regulations 'reservations' are placed on the data involved.

    Business Investment is subject to one reservation regarding the inclusion of estimates of cinematographic film originals in the business investment data. A brief guide to the GNI process and the reservations placed on the UK GCF estimates can be found on the ONS website.  In this publication, improvements to the measurement of investment in cinematographic originals have been adopted. Following a review period, Eurostat will conclude whether the reservation can be lifted.

  2. Understanding the data

    Short guide to business investment

    Gross fixed capital formation is used in the compilation of the UK National Accounts’ expenditure measure of the second estimate of gross domestic product (GDP) at month 2 and the quarterly national accounts (QNA) at month 3. It is an estimate of net capital expenditure by both the public and private sectors. Examples of capital expenditure include spending on machinery and plant, transport equipment, software, dwellings and other buildings, and structures such as roads. Business investment statistics exclude expenditure on dwellings and the costs associated with the transfer of ownership of non-produced assets.

    Business investment estimates are a short term indicator of net capital expenditure by manufacturing and non-manufacturing businesses within the UK, at current prices and constant prices both seasonally and non-seasonally adjusted. Business investment is one component of gross fixed capital formation.

    Interpreting the data

    When making comparisons it is recommended that users focus on chained volume, seasonally adjusted estimates as these show underlying movements rather than seasonal movements, with the effect of changes in prices removed.

    GFCF and business investment estimates are regularly subject to revision because of:

    • late responses to the Quarterly Capital Expenditure Inquiry

    • revisions to seasonally adjusted factors which are re-estimated every quarter

    • annual updating of the Inter-Departmental Business Register (IDBR) that forms the basis of the sampling for the Quarterly Capital Expenditure Inquiry. This occurs in Quarter 1 and can have an impact on the Quarter 1 provisional results usually published in May each year.

    Definitions and explanations

    Definitions found within the main statistical bulletin are listed here.

    Current price (CP)
    Current prices are the actual or estimated recorded monetary value over a defined period. They show the value for each item expressed in terms of the prices of that period.

    Chained volume measure (CVM)
    A chained volume measure is a series of economic data from successive years put in real terms by computing the production volume for each year in the prices of the preceding year. The data are then chain linked together to obtain a time-series of production figures from which the effects of price changes (that is, monetary inflation or deflation) have been removed. In other words, a series is obtained from the raw data which reflects only the production volume.

    Seasonally adjusted (SA)
    Seasonal adjustment aids interpretation by removing effects associated with the time of the year or the arrangement of the calendar, which could obscure movements of interest.

    Sectors
    Institutional sectors are defined in the System of National Accounts (SNA) glossary as units that are grouped together to form institutional sectors, on the basis of their principal functions, behaviour and objectives.
    The institutional units of the UK that make up the total economy are grouped into five mutually exclusive sectors:

    • non-financial corporations

    • financial corporations

    • general government

    • non-profit institutions serving households

    • households.

    In the case of non-financial and financial sectors these can be further broken down into the private sector, i.e. those units controlled by private individuals or groups, and the public corporations, i.e. those units controlled by the state.

    Non-Manufacturing
    The non-manufacturing industries are industries that do not produce products. The non-manufacturing industries in the bulletin include construction, distribution services, other services and other production. The other services industries are: hotels and restaurants; financial services; transportation and storage; information and communication; real estate; education; and health and social work. Other production industries include electricity, gas and water, agriculture, forestry and fisheries, and mining and quarrying industries. There is also a small industry entitled other services which includes non-manufacturing industries not included in the groups described above.

    Use of the data

    Business investment estimates are used by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in the compilation of the UK National Accounts, and externally by the Bank of England and Her Majesty’s Treasury to monitor economic performance and inform monetary and fiscal policy decisions. Business investment is also used by other government departments, such as the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the business and research communities, education, the media and general public.

  3. Methods

    Details of the business investment methodology are published in the Summary Quality Report for Business Investment (128.9 Kb Pdf) . This report describes the intended uses of the estimates presented in this publication, their general quality and the methods used to produce them.

    Composition of the data

    Business investment estimates are produced twice each quarter: an early provisional estimate in month 2, and revised results in month 3. They are based primarily on the results of the Quarterly Capital Expenditure Inquiry which collects data on the acquisition and disposal of capital assets in the private sector.

    Both public corporations and private sector estimates cover acquisitions less disposals of vehicles and of other capital equipment together with expenditure on leased assets and new building work. Spending on land and existing buildings, including dwellings is excluded.

    The Quarterly Capital Expenditure Inquiry covers around 95% of the data used in the business investment estimates and is sourced from the manufacturing, other production, construction, distribution and other services sectors.

    More information about the Quarterly Capital Expenditure Inquiry can found in the ‘ Summary Quality Report for Quarterly Capital Expenditure Inquiry (287.8 Kb Pdf) ’.

    The majority of the remaining data included in the business investment estimates are returned by public corporations.

    Deflation

    It is common for the value of a group of financial transactions to be measured in several time periods. The values measured will include both the change in the volume sold and the effect of the change of prices over that year. Deflation is the process whereby the effect of price change is removed from a set of values.

    The business investment estimates are aggregated and weighted and used to produce chained volume estimates in both seasonally adjusted and non-seasonally adjusted forms.  The chained volume estimates (reference year 2010=100) are derived by taking the value (current price) estimates and adjusting to remove the impact of price changes (968.6 Kb Pdf) using product based deflators.

  4. Quality

    Estimates of business investment are predominantly based on the financial data collected through the Quarterly Capital Expenditure Inquiry at month two of each quarter (provisional) and month three (revised). GFCF includes additional data from Central and Local Government.  Response rates for Quarterly Capital Expenditure Inquiry for the current quarter reflect the response rates at the time of publication. Later returns for the previous quarter’s data are included in the month three (revised) results. Response rates for historical periods are updated to reflect the current level of response at the time of this publication.

    Table 2: Response rates

    At month two (Provisional)   At month three (Revised)
    Period Overall response rates (per cent) Questionnaires Period Overall response rates (per cent) Questionnaires
    2012 Q2 74.2 2012 Q2 91.2
      Q3 79.0   Q3 90.7
      Q4 76.8   Q4 90.6
               
    2013 Q1 77.8 2013 Q1 90.4
      Q2 75.2   Q2 86.5
      Q3 78.0   

    Table source: Office for National Statistics

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    National Accounts revisions policy

    In accordance with National Accounts revisions policy, the business investment estimates are revised for specific periods during certain quarters. In this release no periods are being revised.

    Revision triangles

    The reliability of key indicators can be estimated by monitoring the size of revisions. However, the methodology used to produce GFCF and its component series significantly changed in June 2013. A more useful comparison of estimates produced using two very different methodologies is an impact analysis. Hence, the revisions tables are not published in this release, and instead, an impact analysis has been published in the articles listed in the background notes.

  5. Further information on methodology

    Information on the improvements to the estimation of gross fixed capital formation (including business investment) can be found in:

    Explaining the Impact of the Blue Book 2013 Changes to Gross Fixed Capital Formation and Business Investment - 31 July 2013 (180.3 Kb Pdf)

    GDP continuous improvement: improvements to the estimation of gross fixed capital formation in the UK National Accounts (199.5 Kb Pdf)

    GDP Continuous Improvement: The Measurement of Artistic Originals in the UK - 21 June 2013 (407 Kb Pdf)

    Further information about the UK National Accounts and the programme of continuous improvement can be found at:

    National Accounts methodology and articles

    Continuous Improvement of Gross Domestic Product: Sources, Methods and Communication

    British Nuclear Fuels Limited (BNFL)

    In April 2005 nuclear reactors were transferred from British Nuclear Fuels Limited (BNFL) to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA). BNFL is classified as a public corporation in National Accounts and the NDA as a central government body. The capital formation estimates in this release reflect this transfer from the public corporations manufacturing category. The value of the transfer was -£15.6 billion. The negative value reflects the fact that the reactors are at the end of their productive lives and have large decommissioning and clean-up liabilities. This shows up as a prominent trough in Quarter 2 2005 in the general government series, and a complementary peak in Quarter 2 of the business investment series, which includes investment by public corporations (except dwellings and transfer costs). A more detailed explanation about the transfer can be found in the December 2006 Business Investment release (414.3 Kb Pdf) .

    Aircraft imports

    On 1 January 2011 a change was made to the zero-rating of VAT on qualifying aircraft. More information on this can be found on the HMRC website. This may have contributed to the high level of aircraft imports for Q4 2010 and the low level of aircraft imports for Q1 2011.

  6. Other relevant sources of data

    International business investment comparisons are not available on a like for like basis as the compilation of European statistics on business investment differs from the data provided within this release. However European estimates of business investment provided by Eurostat, the European statistical office can be found on the Eurostat website.

    Business investment in the United Kingdom accounts for just over half of total gross fixed capital formation. Total gross fixed capital formation forms around 15% of gross domestic product as seen in table 1 the United Kingdom National Accounts 2012 (4.78 Mb Pdf) .

    The GSS Business Statistics – interactive user guide is an interactive tool to help you find what business and economic statistics are available, and choose the right data for your needs.
    ONS publishes the following statistical releases, which provide complementary information on UK business and economic performance:

  7. Feedback

    ONS welcomes your feedback on the business investment release and data. Further enquiries about business investment can be addressed to the business investment team at gcf@ons.gsi.gov.uk, or, to engage in discussion about business investment, and to share information with other users or producers of financial and economic statistics, visit the Financial and Economic Statistics User Group on the Royal Statistical Society’s StatsUserNet discussion forum.

  8. Accessing data

    The business investment statistical bulletin conforms to the standards set out in the UK Statistics Authority Code of Practice.

    Time series used in this bulletin and time series datasets carry unique identifiers for ease of use. More information on these identifiers is available in the article published on 25 August 2011, 'New series identifiers for GDP(O), IoS and IoP and GCF' (35.4 Kb Pdf) .

  9. Code of Practice for Official Statistics:

    National Statistics are produced to high professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference. © Crown copyright 2013.

  10. Next publication: Friday 20 December 2013.

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  11. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

Statistical contacts

Name Phone Department Email
Louisa Nolan +44 (0)1633 455250 Office for National Statistics gcf@ons.gsi.gov.uk
Get all the tables for this publication in the data section of this publication .
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