1. Main points

  • On average between June 2020 and January 2021, the proportion of companies reporting a decrease in turnover compared with normal expectations was 5 percentage points lower for those that had foreign direct investment (FDI) links compared with those without FDI links.

  • More than half of respondents with and without FDI links reported lower than expected turnover in June 2020, with those proportions falling at similar rates during the rest of the year.

  • The average proportion of companies with FDI links reporting cash reserves lasting more than six months was 20 percentage points higher than the average for companies without FDI links between June 2020 and January 2021.

  • Companies with both inward and outward FDI links had the highest average proportion of respondents with cash reserves lasting more than six months, compared with companies with either an inward or outward link.

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4. Business insights in the UK data

Business insights and impact on the UK economy
Dataset | Released 28 July 2022
Weighted estimates from the voluntary fortnightly business survey (BICS) about financial performance, workforce, prices, trade, and business resilience.

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5. Glossary

Foreign direct investment (FDI)

Foreign direct investment (FDI) is cross-border investment made with the objective of establishing a lasting interest in the host economy. FDI is also defined by control relationships, where the direct investor (parent company) controls at least 10% of the voting power (ordinary shares) of the direct investment enterprise. These relationships can be measured in two directions: outward and inward. Outward refers to the direct investments of UK-resident companies in other countries, while inward refers to the direct investments in the UK from non-resident companies.


Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause disease in people and animals. They can cause the common cold or more severe diseases, such as COVID-19.


COVID-19 is the name used to refer to the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is a type of coronavirus. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) takes COVID-19 to mean presence of SARS-CoV-2 with or without symptoms.

Cash reserves

The money a company has to meet short-term and emergency funding needs.

"High-contact" industries

These are industries that are more reliant on physical interaction. These include:

  • wholesale and retail

  • transportation and storage

  • accommodation and food services

  • arts, entertainment and recreation

  • other services

"Low-contact" industries

These are industries that are less dependent on in-person contact. These include:

  • mining and quarrying

  • manufacturing

  • water supply, sewerage, waste management and remediation activities

  • construction

  • information and communication

  • real estate activities

  • professional, scientific and technical activities

  • administrative and support service activities

  • education

  • human health and social work activities

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6. Data sources and quality

Business Insights and Conditions Survey

The Business Insights and Conditions Survey (BICS) is a fortnightly online questionnaire from a sample of approximately 39,000 businesses. Respondents are asked for their experiences at the time of answering the questionnaire, or over a stated reference period.

Results presented in this article are a variation from the regular published BICS data and are based on a subset of the BICS sample. We used unweighted results which are not directly comparable with the fortnightly Business insights and impact on the UK economy bulletins. Additionally, the sample is not necessarily representative of all UK companies: inferences are only relevant to the businesses that responded.

Dates of the reference and survey live period of each wave of the BICS can be found on the Business insights and impact on the UK economy dataset webpage.

More quality and methodology information on strengths, limitations, appropriate uses, and how the data were created is available in our Business Insights and Conditions Survey (BICS) QMI.

Foreign Direct Investment Survey

The main source of information for UK foreign direct investment (FDI) statistics is the annual Foreign Direct Investment Survey; separate surveys are used to collect data on inward and outward FDI. The samples for the FDI Survey are taken from the annual populations which are informed by the previous survey responses of companies and the Inter-Departmental Business Register. A commercial data source was also used for the first time in 2020 to inform the FDI population. This is combined with data from the Bank of England for all monetary financial institutions, such as banks, and other sources for property and public corporations in FDI.

More quality and methodology information on strengths, limitations, appropriate uses, and how UK total FDI statistics were calculated is available in the Foreign direct investment QMI.

Data linking

This article links respondents to BICS with the FDI population at the enterprise level. This is because different parts of the multinational enterprise might be selected for each survey, which makes it harder to link those responses. By using the enterprise group, this identifies respondents to BICS that have a reporting unit somewhere in their UK corporate structure that also have at least one link with a foreign parent company or affiliate. This means it may not necessarily be the BICS reporting unit itself with the link to a foreign company.

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Contact details for this Article

Andrew Jowett
Telephone: +44 1633 455357