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Statistical bulletin: Business Investment, Q2 2012 Provisional Results This product is designated as National Statistics

Released: 24 August 2012 Download PDF

Key findings

  • Business investment in seasonally adjusted terms fell by £0.5 billion to £30 billion (-1.5 per cent) when compared with the previous quarter.
  • Business investment increased by £0.5 billion (1.7 per cent) when compared with the second quarter of 2011.
  • Total manufacturing investment rose by £0.2 billion to £3.7 billion (5.5 per cent) when compared with the previous quarter.
  • Total non-manufacturing investment fell by £0.7 billion to £26.3 billion (-2.4 per cent) when compared with the previous quarter.
  • Compared with the second quarter of 2011, total manufacturing investment rose by £0.4 billion (13.0 per cent); total non-manufacturing investment rose by £0.1 billion (0.3 per cent).

Summary

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.

Business investment estimates are a short term indicator of capital expenditure by manufacturing and non-manufacturing businesses within the UK. Capital expenditure is defined as the spending on physical assets such as buildings and machinery. More details on capital expenditure are available in section 3 of ‘Methods’, in the background notes.

Detailed estimates of business investment at current prices and measured in chained volume terms for seasonally and non-seasonally adjusted estimates are available to download in the Business Investment reference tables 1 to 7.

Definitions found within this bulletin are explained in more detail within the background notes, section ‘Understanding the data’, under ‘Definitions and explanations’.

Business investment in detail

Figure 1:

Business investment chained volume measures

Reference year 2009=100, seasonally adjusted

£'s millions
Source: Quarterly Survey of Capital Expenditure - Office for National Statistics

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Note: On 1 January 2011 a change was made to the zero-rating of VAT on qualifying aircraft. This may have contributed to the high level of aircraft imports for 2010 quarter four and the low level of aircraft imports for 2011 quarter one. More information on this is available in section 5 of the background notes under 'Relevant links'.

Table 1: Business investment

Chained volume measures, reference year 2009 seasonally adjusted
  Percentage change £million
  Most recent quarter on a year earlier Most recent quarter on previous quarter Most recent level
Total business investment 1.7 -1.5 29,986
Total manufacturing 13.0 5.5 3,675
Total non-manufacturing 0.3 -2.4 26,312

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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Private sector non-manufacturing

Business investment between the first quarter of 2012 and the second quarter of 2012 saw a decrease in private sector non-manufacturing of £0.9 billion to £25.3 billion (-3.3 per cent). This decrease in non-manufacturing was primarily in other services, down £1.1 billion to £14.9 billion (-6.8 per cent). The fall in other services is partially offset by an increase in distribution services, up £0.2 billion (6.4 per cent). See reference table 1 for more detail.

The £1.1 billion fall in other services saw decreases in transportation and storage, which fell by £0.3 billion to £3.1 billion (-9.5 per cent), information and communication, which fell by £0.3 billion to £2.9 billion (-9.4 per cent) and hotels & restaurants, which fell by £0.2 billion to £1.0 billion (-13.4 per cent). See reference table 6 for more detail.

Compared with the second quarter of 2011, business investment in private sector non-manufacturing fell by £0.1 billion (-0.3 per cent). This reflects a fall of £0.5 billion in construction (-28.9 per cent), which is partially offset by a rise of £0.6 billion in other production (9.6 per cent). See reference table 1 for more detail.

Private sector manufacturing

Business investment in private sector manufacturing rose by £0.2 billion to £3.7 billion (5.5 per cent) when compared with the previous quarter. There was an increase of £0.1 billion in engineering & vehicles (13.3 per cent) and an increase of £0.1 billion in chemicals & man-made fibres (23.6 per cent). See reference table 3 for more detail.

Compared with the second quarter of 2011, business investment in private sector manufacturing rose by £0.4 billion (12.9 per cent), with increases in metals & metal goods of £0.2 billion (68.7 per cent) and engineering & vehicles of £0.2 billion (18.5 per cent). See reference table 3 for more detail.

Economic Background

The 2012 Q2 provisional estimate of Business investment fell by £0.5 billion when compared with the previous quarter, but increased by £0.5 billion when compared with the same quarter a year ago. This could be attributed to weak domestic growth, subdued consumer confidence and the continuation of the Eurozone debt crisis, which have all contributed towards a difficult economic situation for businesses.

Profit margins have been reduced as firms have been unable to pass on rising input prices to consumers due to fragile market conditions. Consequently, businesses seem to be undertaking defensive strategies involving cost cutting rather than increasing capital spending. Furthermore, the availability of credit for investment is limited and where it is available businesses are unwilling to borrow as future demand is uncertain.

The independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) reduced its growth forecast for UK business investment in 2012 to an increase of 0.7 per cent down from 7.7 per cent last November.

Background notes

  1. 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 2012.

  2. Understanding the data

    Short Guide to Business investment

    Business Investment estimates are a short term indicator of capital expenditure by manufacturing and non-manufacturing businesses within the UK, at current prices, constant prices and seasonally adjusted estimates. Business Investment is one component of Gross Fixed Capital Formation.

    Gross Fixed Capital Formation comprises information from Business Investment; General Government; Dwellings and Existing Buildings and Dwellings for both the public and private sector. Business Investment excludes dwellings and the costs associated with the transfer of ownership of non-produced assets. Gross Fixed Capital Formation is used in the compilation of the UK National Accounts’ expenditure measure of Gross Domestic Product.

    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.

    Business Investment estimates are 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 (usually occurring in quarter one and having most effect on the results published in May).

    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)

    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 is 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, from the raw data a series is obtained which reflects only 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 resident institutional units 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 private sector, those units controlled by private individuals or groups and public sector, those units controlled by the state.

    Use of the data

    Business Investment estimates are used by Office for National Statistics (ONS) 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 on the Business investment methodology are published in the Summary Quality Report for Business Investment. (128.9 Kb Pdf)

    Composition of the data

    Business Investment estimates are produced twice each quarter and are based primarily on results of the Quarterly Capital Expenditure Inquiry which collects data on the acquisition and disposal of capital assets.

    The private sector estimates exclude expenditure on dwellings.

    The figures 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 is excluded.

    The Quarterly Capital Expenditure Inquiry covers around 95 per cent 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 on 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.

    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
    2011 Q2 73.1 2011 Q1 89.8
      Q3 77.0   Q2 90.5
      Q4 77.3   Q3 91.5
     2012 Q1 76.9   Q4 91.5
    Q2 75.2 2012 Q1 88.6

    Table source: Office for National Statistics

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    The Business investment results 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 2009=100) are derived by taking the value estimates and adjusting to remove the impact of price changes (968.6 Kb Pdf) using Producer Price Indices.

  4. Quality

    Estimates for the Business Investment Statistical Bulletin are based on the financial data collected through the quarterly Capital Expenditure Inquiry at month two (provisional) and month three (revised). Response rates for the current quarter reflect the response rates at the time of publication. Late 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.

    Summary quality report

    A Summary Quality Report (128.9 Kb Pdf) for this Statistical Bulletin can be found on the ONS website. This report describes in detail the intended uses of the statistics presented in this publication, their general quality and the methods used to produce them.

    National Accounts revisions policy

    In adherence with National Accounts revisions policy, the business investment estimates are revised for specific periods during certain quarters. The current quarter is open for revisions at month 3 as new data becomes available (Quality section) and the time series back to the beginning of the latest open year is available for revisions during month 3 in both June and December.

    National Accounts revision policy (41.7 Kb Pdf) is available on the ONS website.

    Revision triangles

    In line with the revision policy used for national accounts this month, this publication includes no revisions to previosuly published data. 

    One indication of the reliability of the key indicators can be obtained by monitoring the size of revisions. The tables below record the size and pattern of revisions, which have occurred over the last five years. Please note that these indicators only report summary measures for revisions. The revised data may itself be subject to sampling or other sources of error. A statistical test has been applied to the average revision to find out if it is statistically significant different from zero. An asterisk (*) shows if the test is significant. Details about this revisions material can be found in the document 'Revisions information in ONS First Releases' (244.6 Kb Pdf)

    Table 3 below shows the revision between the month 2 and month 3 estimates of growth in total business investment and total manufacturing investment. The analysis of revisions uses estimates from the second quarter of 2007 to the first quarter of 2012. 

    The revisions analysis detailed below does not include the estimates published this quarter.

    The estimates this quarter will be included in the next provisional publication (month 2).

    Table 3: Revisions to month 2 estimates of business investment and total manufacturing investment growth

      Growth in latest provisional estimate (per cent) Revisions between the month 2 and month 3 estimates of business investment and total manufacturing investment growth.
    Average over the last five years Average over the last five years without regard to sign (average absolute revision)
    Total business investment -1.5 *1.25 *1.85
    Total manufacturing  5.5 0.05 2.42
    Note: Quarterly, Chained volume measure, Seasonally adjusted.
         
    *Statistical tests produced evidence that the mean revision is significantly different from zero.

    Table source: Office for National Statistics

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    Table 4 below shows the revisions between the month 3 estimates of growth in business investment and total manufacturing investment and the equivalent estimates published three years later. The table covers revised estimates of business investment and total manufacturing investment from the first quarter of 2004 to the fourth quarter of 2008.

    The revisions analysis detailed below does not include the estimates published this quarter.

    The estimates this quarter will be included in the next revised publication (month 3).

    Table 4: Revisions to month 3 estimates of growth in business investment and total manufacturing investment

    Growth in latest revised estimate (per cent) Revisions between the first month 3 publication and estimates three years later.
    Average over the last five years Average over the last five years without regard to sign (average absolute revision)
    Total business investment growth. 1.9 0.07 1.73
    Total manufacturing investment growth. -0.3 0.26 3.02
           
    Note: Quarterly, Chained volume measure, Seasonally adjusted.

    Table source: Office for National Statistics

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    Spreadsheets giving revisions triangles (real time databases) of estimates for 1996, and the calculations behind the averages in both tables can be dowloaded from 'Download data in this release'. 

  5. Relevant links

    British Nuclear Fuels plc (BNFL)

    In April 2005 nuclear reactors were transferred from British Nuclear Fuels plc (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. 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 2010 quarter four and the low level of aircraft imports for 2011 quarter one. The level of investment can be seen within private sector, non-manufacturing other services on reference table 1, and subsequently transport and communication on reference table 6.

  6. Publication policy

    Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available from the Media Relations Office. Also available is a list of the names of those given pre-publication access (38.8 Kb Pdf) to the contents of this bulletin.

  7. Accessing data

    The Business Investment Statistical Bulletin and Time Series datasets are available to download free from the National Statistics website at 9.30 AM on the day of publication.

    ONS allows a list of agreed officials to have access to data 24 hours before publication, which is available on the Business investment release page.

    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 are available in the article published on 25 August 2011, 'New series identifiers for GDP(O), IoS and IoP and GCF'. (35.4 Kb Pdf)

  8. Next publication: Thursday 27 September 2012

    Issued by: Office for National Statistics, Government Buildings, Cardiff Road, Newport NP10 8XG

    Website www.statistics.gov.uk

    Twitter  www.twitter.com/statisticsONS

  9. 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

    These National Statistics are produced to high professional standards and released according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

Statistical contacts

Name Phone Department Email
Stuart Deneen +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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