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

Released: 20 December 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 estimates of seasonally adjusted chained volume measures.
  • GFCF was estimated to have increased by £0.8 billion to £53.6 billion (1.5%) compared with the previous quarter.
  • Business investment rose by an estimated £0.6 billion (2.0%) compared with the previous quarter.
  • Investment was broad based with increases in all of the five main assets. The largest increase was in transport equipment, which grew by £0.5 billion (27.1%). Other new buildings and structures grew by £0.2 billion (0.8%) and other machinery and equipment increased by £0.1 billion (1.3%).
  • Looking over the last four quarters, investment has been broadly flat, ranging between £52 and £54 billion.
  • An experimental dataset containing detailed industry and asset breakdowns of business investment can be found on the ONS ad hoc publication web pages.
  • The earliest period being revised in this release is 2012 Q1.

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

The largest component of the data collected to produce estimates of GFCF and business investment comes from ONS's 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 introduced an adjustment in the provisional Business Investment release Q3 2013 to correct for this bias. For this revised release the adjustment has been removed.

Publication of 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) improving 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 Gross Capital Formation publications. In response to feedback that users do find these data helpful, the estimates of Business Investment breakdowns will be published on a regular quarterly basis.

Revisions

This release presents revised estimates of GFCF and its asset and sector breakdowns from the first quarter of 2012.

Provisional estimates are subject to revision because:

  • a higher response rate from surveys, such as the Quarterly Survey of Capital Expenditure, is achieved, which improves the quality of the later estimates;

  • forecast data is replaced with actual data, for example in the general government estimates; and

  • seasonal adjustment factors are re-estimated every quarter. Seasonal adjustment factors may be revised due to the addition of the latest quarter’s estimate, and because of revisions to the unadjusted data.

A table of the provisional (month 2) and revised (month 3) response rates for the Quarterly Survey of Capital Expenditure is presented in Section 4 of the Background Notes.

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

Gross fixed capital formation and business investment

Figure 1: annual gross fixed capital formation chained volume measures, seasonally adjusted

Reference year: 2010

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

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Figure 2: quarterly gross fixed capital formation chained volume measures, seasonally adjusted

Reference year: 2010

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

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Figure 3: annual business investment chained volume measures, seasonally adjusted

Reference year: 2010

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

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Figure 4: quarterly business investment chained volume measures, seasonally adjusted

Reference year: 2010

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

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Summary tables

Total GFCF rose by an estimated £0.8 billion (1.5%) compared with the previous quarter. Business investment rose by an estimated £0.6 billion between Q2 2013 and Q3 2013, to stand at £30.1 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 level1
GFCF 1.5 -0.7 53,583
Business investment 2.0 -5.3 30,072
Private sector dwellings 0.7 8.3 12,122
Private sector transfer costs 5.6 7.0 2,844
Public corporations dwellings -2.1 12.9 780
Public corporations transfer costs 29.2 16.3 -93
General government -0.2 1.6 7,858

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 increases in all of the five assets. The largest increase was in transport equipment, which rose by £0.5 billion (27.1%) and now has the highest level of investment since Q4 2010.

Table 1b: total gross fixed capital formation by asset (1)

  Percentage change £million
  Most recent quarter on previous quarter Most recent quarter on a year earlier Most recent level2
GFCF 1.5 -0.7 53,583
Dwellings 0.0 8.3 12,835
Other new buildings and structures  0.8 -6.8 20,058
Transport equipment 27.1 285.5 2,174
Other machinery and equipment, inc. cultivated assets 1.3 -9.8 10,168
Intangible fixed assets 0.4 -4.6 8,348
       

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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Additional analyses available to download

ONS also publishes additional analyses of GFCF, business investment, and the Quarterly Survey of Capital Expenditure which have been created in response to ad hoc user requests. This is available to download for free from the ONS website. Below is a list of the ad hoc requests completed in the last quarter, together with a link to the web pages from which they can be downloaded.  Enquiries about ad hoc requests may be made to gcf@ons.gov.uk.

December 2013

002063 Estimates from the Quarterly Survey of Capital Expenditure: acquisitions and disposals by major asset type

A time series (1997 - 2013) of estimates from the Quarterly Survey of Capital Expenditure broken down into acquisitions and disposals by major asset type

002062 Estimates from the Quarterly Survey of Capital Expenditure broken down by industry

A time series (1997 - 2013) of the estimates from the Quarterly Survey of Capital Expenditure broken down by SIC07 2-digit industry

002028 Total Gross Fixed Capital Formation industry split for purchased software, own-account software, mineral exploration and artistic originals

Gross Fixed Capital Formation 2013 Q3 data for total GFCF industry split for purchased software, own-account software, mineral exploration and artistic originals. This series is provided in current price, not seasonally adjusted.

November 2013

001977 Business Investment - detailed industry and asset breakdowns

These estimates are experimental industry and asset breakdowns of business investment, which covers investment in plant and other machinery, transport equipment, intangible assets and buildings and other structures, by the private sector and public corporations. 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) improving 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 README section of the dataset.

October 2013

001891 Total Gross Fixed Capital Formation industry split for purchased software, own-account software, mineral exploration and artistic originals

Gross Fixed Capital Formation 2013 Q2 data for total GFCF industry split for purchased software, own-account software, mineral exploration and artistic originals. This series is provided in current price, not seasonally adjusted.  

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, new dwellings and other buildings, and major improvements to existing 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, and capital expenditure by local and central government.

    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 Survey of Capital Expenditure

    • 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 Survey of Capital Expenditure. 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
    Estimates of gross fixed capital formation and business investment are produced twice each quarter: an early provisional estimate in month 2 and revised results in month 3. The largest component of the estimates is collected via the Quarterly Survey of Capital Expenditure. This survey collects data on the acquisition and disposal of capital assets from the manufacturing, other production, construction, distribution and other services sectors. Other key sources for gross fixed capital formation include data returned by local and central government and public corporations, data on construction, and data on new dwellings and artistic originals. Gross fixed capital formation by local and central government, investment in new dwellings and the costs associated with the transfer of non-produced assets (primarily costs associated with the transfer of land and existing buildings) are excluded from the business investment estimates, but included in total gross fixed capital formation. The acquisition and disposal of land and existing buildings, including dwellings, is excluded from both the business investment and gross fixed capital formation estimates.

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

    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) 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 Survey of Capital Expenditure at month two of each quarter (provisional) and month three (revised). GFCF includes additional data from Central and Local Government.  Response rates for Quarterly Survey of Capital Expenditure 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 91.7
      Q3 78.0   Q3 86.6

    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 the earliest period being revised is Q1 2012.

    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 

    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 Ltd (BNFL)

    In April 2005 nuclear reactors were transferred from British Nuclear Fuels Ltd (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:

    • Profitability of UK Companies - quarterly data on capital employed by Private Non-Financial Corporation’s (PNFCs). Contains annual, net and gross rates of return (expressed as percentages) on capital used by PNFCs

    • Quarterly National Accounts - includes UK data on gross fixed capital formation and changes in inventories

    • UK Economic Accounts - quarterly detailed estimates of national product, income and expenditure, UK sector accounts and UK balance of payments, including data on gross fixed capital formation

    • UK National Accounts - the Blue Book - annual publication of the UK National Accounts, including data on gross fixed capital formation

    • Retail Sales - monthly estimate of UK retail sales

    • UK Manufacturers' Sales by Product (PRODCOM) - annual output by manufacturers 

    • Labour Market Statistics - monthly data on employment, unemployment, economic inactivity, claimant count, average earnings, labour productivity, vacancies and labour disputes

    • Business Demography – annual statistics on UK business births, deaths and survival 

  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. Publication policy

    Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available from the Statistics Authority or from the Media Relations Office email: media.relations:ons.gsi.gov.uk. A list of the names (40.3 Kb Pdf) of those given pre-publication access to the contents of this bulletin is also available.

  9. 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)

  10. Next publication: Wednesday 26 February  2014.

  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.gov.uk
Get all the tables for this publication in the data section of this publication .
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